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What is Juneteenth and what is its historical relevance?Although Black Americans have celebrated Juneteenth since the late 1800s, nationwide protests against racism and police brutality in 2020 gave new urgency to the day and its historical relevance. Juneteenth commemorates the proclamation issued by Union Army General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, ordering the freedom of more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in Texas. President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had officially outlawed slavery in Texas and other states at war with the Union on January 1, 1863. However, Lincoln’s proclamation had little impact on Texans at that time due to the small number of Union troops available to enforce the law. Enforcement of the declaration generally relied on the advance of Union troops due to continued rebel resistance. Juneteenth is observed annually on June 19, a holiday long-cherished by Black Americans—an observance of resilience in a centuries-old journey that celebrates enslaved Black peoples’ emancipation in the United States. The U.S. Congress has yet to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday.
What is the intent of the Juneteenth Legacy Project?The aim of the Juneteenth Legacy Project is to recontextualize Juneteenth as a pivotal moment in the arc of U.S. history, and retell the story of its genesis, and historical and contemporary relevance. “The Juneteenth Legacy Project will serve as a platform for illuminating and amplifying a complete story of Juneteenth—helping make the invisible visible and giving voice to the voiceless—remembering and celebrating the contributions of Black freedmen and formerly enslaved people who fought for their freedom and the freedom of others,” Sam Collins, a historian and co-chair of the Juneteenth Legacy Project, said. The center point of the project is “Absolute Equality,” a massive art installation and storytelling space to be dedicated on June 19, 2021 in Galveston—where Juneteenth originated. World-renowned, Houston-based artist Reginald Adams is creating the massive art installation, which will include augmented reality, an interactive experience that will enrich the visitor experience. Adams and his team will create the permanent mural on the property that overlooks General Granger’s former headquarters, where he issued the historic proclamation. “’Absolute Equality’ will reimagine an approach to monuments and memorials to reflect the nation’s diversity better and highlight a story that was extensively buried or marginalized until 2020,” Adams said. “The storytelling space will give form and narrative to the beautiful, extraordinary, and powerful multiplicity, representative of one of America’s most influential and essential stories.”
Who is the Juneteenth Legacy Project?The Juneteenth Legacy Project (JuneteenthLegacyProject.com) is a Galveston-based nonprofit corporation (501c). Sam Collins is its president, and Steven Creitz and Sheridan Lorenz are vice presidents. The Galveston-based Nia Cultural Center is the Juneteenth Legacy Project’s fiscal sponsor, accepting tax-deductible donations on behalf of the organization. The Juneteenth Legacy Project’s honorary national co-chair is Mrs. Opal Lee. The project is led by Sam Collins and Sheridan Lorenz, the project’s co-chairs, and supported by a committee made up of Galveston area community activists, businesspeople, and nonprofit organization leaders.
How can interested parties donate to the Juneteenth Legacy Project?You have a unique opportunity to become part of history by helping to fund “Absolute Equality,” an art installation being built in Galveston—the birthplace of Juneteenth. This massive installation and storytelling space, “Absolute Equality,” by world-renown artist Reginald Adams, will reimagine an approach to monuments and memorials, highlighting and expanding upon a story that has long been buried or marginalized and provide a point to teach and reflect history in a very public place. The project will be dedicated on June 19, 2021 in Galveston at the genesis of Juneteenth. The Galveston-based nonprofit organization, the Nia Cultural Center, is the project's fiscal sponsor and will process your tax-deductible donations on behalf of the Juneteenth Legacy Project. You may donate using the Juneteenth Legacy Project’s GoFundMe page by clicking here. If you’re a philanthropist or represent a grantmaking foundation, and would like more information, please write to us at info@JuneteenthLegacyProject.com.
Is Juneteenth a national holiday in the United States?One of the initiative’s desired outcomes is that June 19 shall be designated a national holiday by the U.S. Congress. Texas (1980), New Hampshire (2019), and New York (2020) have adopted Juneteenth as a state holiday. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as a ceremonial holiday. Mrs. Opal Lee is the Juneteenth Legacy Project’s honorary national co-chair. The New York Times highlighted that, in 2016, at the age of 89, she walked from her home in Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., in an effort to get Juneteenth named a national holiday. She walked two and a half miles each day to symbolize the two and a half years that Black Texans waited between when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 which abolished slavery, and the day that Order No. 3 was issued in Galveston (where Black people were still enslaved) on June 19, 1865.