TIDA Celebrates Juneteenth as the Newest Federal Holiday

By:Noelle M. Natoli, Member at Clark Hill, PLC and Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee
June 17, 2021





“God’s time [Emancipation] is always near. He set the North Star in the heavens; He gave me the strength in my limbs; He meant I should be free.”—Harriet Tubman

But for some, freedom had to wait. Despite the fact that General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox two months earlier, slavery had remained in full effect in Texas.  It was not until June 19, 1865, in the City of Galveston Bay, Texas when 2,000 Union troops arrived and General Gordon Granger read General Orders No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”  With that act, more than 250,000 slaves were freed. On January 1, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation took effect and all enslaved people were declared free. But the 13th Amendment, which officially ended slavery, was not signed by President Abraham Lincoln until February 1, 1865. The 13th Amendment states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”  

The day became known as “Juneteenth.” The holiday is considered the longest-running African-American holiday, but it was not formally recognized by the State of Texas until January 1, 1980 and is still not an annual nationally recognized holiday, until today when President Joe Biden signed it into law as the first federal holiday to be introduced since Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, four decades ago. 

Of Juneteenth, Michelle Obama said, “What I love about Juneteenth is that even in that extended wait, we still find something to celebrate. Even though the story has never been tidy, and Black folks have had to march and fight for every inch of our freedom, our story is nonetheless one of progress. 

And, still, it was not until recent uprisings following the murder of George Floyd and others, that the holiday achieved mainstream, nationwide media attention.  But, “[e]very year we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations. That’s why we need this holiday.”—Al Edwards (often referred to as the “father of the Juneteenth holiday”) 

In honor of the sacrifices made by the African-American community and all those who stand beside them, this Juneteenth TIDA chooses to recognize and celebrate this holiday.

The TIDA Diversity & Inclusion Committee is open to all TIDA members.


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