On June 19th, our neighbors throughout Montgomery County will again celebrate Juneteenth. In 2020, the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners declared Juneteenth an Official Holiday in Montgomery County and in June 2021, President Biden signed legislation establishing Juneteenth as a US federal holiday.
What is Juneteenth? Juneteenth is an annual celebration commemorating the freedom of all enslaved people in the United States of America. On June 19th, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers went to Galveston, Texas to enforce the freeing of all remaining slaves. Many enslavers continued to hold people captive after the announcement, making Juneteenth a symbolic date.
How does Spring-Ford address Juneteenth? Students learn about slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation starting in 3rd grade Social Studies, but there is room for improvement when teaching the importance of Juneteenth. Spring-Ford’s EDI committee will continue working towards a better understanding of the holiday and how to celebrate with our community.
Juneteenth Flag Symbols
The Star: The white star in the center of the flag has a dual meaning. For one, it represents Texas, the Lone Star State. It was in Galveston in 1865 where Union soldiers informed the country's last remaining enslaved people that, under the Emancipation Proclamation issued two years earlier, they were free. But the star also goes beyond Texas, representing the freedom of African Americans in all 50 states.
The Bursts: The bursting outline around the star is inspired by a nova, a term that astronomers use to mean a new star. On the Juneteenth flag, this represents a new beginning for the African Americans of Galveston and throughout the land.
The Arc: The curve that extends across the width of the flag represents a new horizon.
The Colors: The red, white and blue represents the American flag, a reminder that slaves and their descendants were and are Americans.
How to celebrate Juneteenth locally this year:
- Chester County’s Juneteenth Festival. Chester County is proud to host a county-wide Juneteenth celebration. People of all races, nationalities and religions gather around the country united in the concepts of equality and the celebration of diversity. (visitpa.org)
- Juneteenth at Museum of the American Revolution. The museum offers daily in-person story times, a discovery cart inspired by Harry Washington, a Sierra Leonean who escaped the enslavement of George Washington, and free virtual performances retelling the life stories of Ona Judge and Elizabeth Freeman. Ages 4+. (amrevmuseum.org)
- Juneteenth at the Betsy Ross House. The U.S. Colored Troops hoist the Juneteenth flag above Old City’s best-known flagmaker’s dwelling. Afterward, a Once Upon a Nation historical reenactor portrays Bishop Richard Allen, who was an educator, author, equal rights champion, and the founder of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Ages 3+. (Free, June 19, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., historicphiladelphia.org)