As communities statewide observe Juneteenth, see what this federal holiday means to school board members and find events near you.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is a holiday that honors the day that the U.S. Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865 issued an order to take control of the state and free African American enslaved people, nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
Although, the Emancipation Proclamation stated “all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free,” state and local governments within the Southern Confederacy and Texas refused to acknowledge and enforce it.
Juneteenth gatherings often feature music, prayer services, barbecues, pageants and other activities. As Black families moved from Texas to other states, they brought those traditions with them to their new communities.
Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday and several other states did over time. Congress passed a resolution establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday, and President Joe Biden signed it into law on June 17, 2021.
Video by Jade Frazier/ ASBA: Happy Juneteenth!
When school board members learned about Juneteenth
Many students don’t learn about Juneteenth in school like they do about Independence Day.
Chandler Unified School District Governing Board Member Lindsay Love said she learned about Juneteenth from reading American Girl books about the historical character Addy.
“My family is from the East Coast so we didn’t celebrate Juneteenth out there, but I read about it in the book and thought this is a cool holiday and all the foods. I didn’t learn more about it until we moved to Arizona when I was in the fifth grade.” said Love, past president of the Black Alliance for Arizona School Boards Association.
Tempe Union High School District Governing Board Member Berdetta Hodge said she learned about Juneteenth in elementary school.
“I learned about Juneteenth from one of my first African American teachers, and I didn’t get her until the fifth grade,” said Hodge, president of the Black Alliance for Arizona School Boards Association.
Quartzsite Elementary School District Governing Board President Monica Timberlake said she first heard about Juneteenth a couple of years ago.
“For me, I think it’s one of those pieces of history that we don’t talk about enough. We need to learn from our history, but in order to learn from our history, we have to know our history,” said Timberlake, vice president of the Rural Alliance for Arizona School Boards Association.
“Juneteenth is one of those holidays that we did not talk about when I was in school,” said Timberlake, noting that
there needs to be more information on Black history in textbooks and taught in schools.
“Black history is American history, and we need to understand where we are so we can do better,” Timberlake said. “We all have to have a seat at the table, and we all have to be respectful of everybody. Knowing where everyone is coming from helps us to work together better, so just be open.”
Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, Love said.
“I was actually a Miss Juneteenth pageant winner out of high school and my Dad is planning a pageant now,” Love said. “It’s just a celebration of freedom and Black excellence, and I hope to carry those traditions forward.”
“Juneteenth means something more. It means future, progress, because I feel that we’re not completely free yet, so I feel that we still have to strive for it and Juneteenth just reminds me of where we’re at and where we need to be,” Hodge said. “I still think we need to keep striving and keep fighting.”
Love said she encourages students to take pride in their Black community and speak their truth.
“It’s a shame to live in this time where we are seeing so many of our rights rolled back. But I think that having people like myself and President Hodge fighting for seats at the table and acknowledgement for our students, that’s powerful,” Love said.
“I’ll say one thing to the students: We opened the door. Walk through it,” Hodge said.
“Yeah,” Love said.
Then Hodge shared her message for students.
“I would say learn your history, because your history is history. The more you learn about it, the more you feel that you have something to fight for,” Hodge said.
Take a look at these Juneteenth events to find one you’d like to attend.
The City of Chandler’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Division is partnering with several local organizations and community leaders to host four Juneteenth events, including the Freedom Week Kickoff Event on Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Chandler-Gilbert Community College Performing Arts Center with guest speakers including Chandler City Councilmember Christine Ellis and Dr. Matthew C. Whitaker of Diamond Strategies.
The Valley of the Sun Juneteenth Festival hosted by the Arizona Informant Foundation will take place on Saturday, June 18 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Eastlake Park at 1549 E. Jefferson Street in Phoenix and the free event features live music and entertainment, educational workshops, a youth essay contest, free health screenings, children’s activities, arts & crafts, vendors, games and soul food.
The Tucson Juneteenth Celebration 2022 on Saturday, June 18 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Kennedy Park’s Fiesta Areas, 3357 S. La Cholla Blvd., in Tucson features food trucks, live music, vendors, information booths, a Kids Zone, free toys, an African American Virtual Museum, speakers and a reparations resolution.
The Juneteenth Celebration in Downtown Tempe on Sunday, June 19 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at CenterPoint Plaza at 660 S. Mill Avenue in Tempe is a free event that features interactive education, live music, live art, a Black-owned market, a Black artist showcase, a dance, card games, food and drinks from black owned businesses and informational booths.
In Sierra Vista, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Cochise County Democratic Party host a Juneteenth Forum meet & greet with local and statewide candidates on Saturday, June 18 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Rothery Educational Service Center at 3305 E. Fry Boulevard in Sierra Vista.
The 3rd annual Juneteenth Freedom Celebration in Scottsdale on Sunday, June 19 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Scottsdale Stadium at 7408 E. Osborn Road in Scottsdale is a free event hosted by Change the Lead and the City of Scottsdale with food, music, live entertainment, history, a Kids Corner, raffle giveaway, family activities and vendors and Change the Lead will be accepting school supply donations at their booth during the event.