ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque and state of New Mexico will be holding its first Statewide Virtual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 20, 2020. Instead of a physical event, the community is invited to participate in a day of live music, spoken word, and dance to celebrate the end of formal slavery in America.
The virtual event will take place online from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m Saturday. Featured guests will include gospel and a George Floyd tribute by recording artist Rosalind Jones, Kingdom Sounds, and the New Mexico Mass Choir, Pamelya Herndon on Census 2020, The Syndicate ABQ, Fredrick & Company, Trey Vision and more.
Other Juneteeth events can be found on Black Lives Matter ABQ Facebook page.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has also ordered state flags to half-staff in observation of Juneteenth. The state flag will be flown at half-staff starting at sundown Thursday, June 18 through Saturday, June 20.
June 19th is also known as Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
The holiday dates back to June 19, 1865, when a Union general announced from a balcony in Galveston, Texas that enslaved African Americans were free. Slaves in Texas were among the last to learn of their liberation, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Many know Juneteenth as America’s other Independence Day. “The Fourth of July freed the land. Juneteenth freed the people,” says Steve Williams, president of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.
The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation is asking Congress to recognize the date as a holiday equal to the Fourth of July. A petition has gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures. “If Congress is not willing to listen to the people then I would ask, implore the president to move to an executive order and make Juneteenth a national day of observance,” says Williams.
Douglas Matthews coordinates Juneteenth celebrations in Galveston, with a pointed message. “Everybody should be respected, no matter what race, color, or creed they are,” Matthews says. “And that why can’t the world get along better?”
That conversation has intensified as protests against systemic racism have swept across the country. A number of prominent businesses including the NFL, Twitter, and Nike have designated the date a company holiday.
Most states do recognize Juneteenth in some way. In California it’s officially a day of observance. But a handful of other states have gone a step further. It has been a New Mexico state holiday since 2006. According to the Congressional Research Service, the only states that do not observe the holiday are Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
This week the governors of New York and Virginia said they’re proposing legislation to make Juneteenth an official state holiday, as it is in Texas.
Juneteenth activists say for all Americans serious about correcting the nation’s social injustice, recognizing this holiday is a step in the right direction.