On Friday, June 19, people across the United States joined in celebrating Juneteenth, the date which commemorates the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned they had been legally freed under the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Juneteenth, though officially observed in 47 of the U.S. states and the District of Columbia, is still not a national holiday, but there’s a movement to make it one, with celebrities joining in on the call to make it official. These celebrity posts about making Juneteenth a national holiday make some strong arguments.
Juneteenth’s first celebration took place in Texas on June 19, 1866, according to the data from the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service (CRS). The commemorative day eventually spread to other states as participants emigrated to different areas of the country. The holiday has garnered attention from many Black Americans for years, including former President Barack Obama, but the current push to make it a national holiday is stronger than ever.
2020’s Juneteenth saw posts from celebrities like Lupita Nyong’o, Taylor Swift, Mindy Kaling, and Tom Hanks all pushing for the important day to become a national holiday.
Black Panther and Us actor Nyong’o posted to her Instagram on Friday, June 19 to spread awareness about Opal Lee. “This is Opal Lee, the force behind the movement to make #Juneteenth a national holiday. Also known as Freedom Day, it is the day that commemorates when slavery officially ended in the USA,” Nyong’o wrote. “At 93, Mrs. Lee keeps banging the drum for the recognition of this day. Public holidays signal the moments in history that are important to a nation’s identity and the values they hold dear.” The Oscar-winning actor continued, “Recognizing Juneteenth nationally would be one more way of acknowledging the intrinsic value of Black people and their history to the wealth and prosperity of the USA.” Nyong’o finished her inspirational post by calling on her fans to sign the Juneteenth petition in her bio.
Kaling and Chris Evans both responded to a Tweet from The Huffington Post, which featured an article about Juneteenth potentially becoming a national holiday. Evans tweeted, “As it should be.” Kaling retweeted Evans’ tweet, writing, “I can’t imagine a better major federal holiday than a celebration/memorial to the end of slavery.”
Swift, taking to Twitter, posted a video from The Root, writing, “Happy Juneteenth! I want to thank @TheRoot and @RhapsoDani for allowing me to post this video about the significance of today, June 19th, and why it should be celebrated as a National holiday.”
Hanks posted a typewritten note on Instagram on Juneteenth, captioning it, “A Day to celebrate. Nationally. Working towards Liberty and Justice. For All. Hanx.” The typewritten paper read: Juneteenth. When American became a perfect Union. ‘That all men are created equal.'”
Another celebrity to chime in for a national recognition was Usher, who penned an opinion piece for The Washington Post, in which he wrote “My heart is shattered by the ongoing injustices in this country, incited by its long history of racism that has led to deadly outcomes for too many of our people,” he wrote. “This country must change.”
Star Trek actor George Takei also tweeted about Juneteenth, writing “#Juneteenth should be a paid national holiday. Raise your hand if you agree, and pass it along.” His tweet featured a video breaking down the history of Juneteenth.
Modern-day abolitionists believe that Juneteenth is a celebratory day of progress in the United States, but doesn’t, by any means, mark the end of the fight against racial injustice.
Click here to sign the petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday or learn more about the history of the day here.