Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research Graduate News SW Center

Juneteenth is more popular than ever. This year’s celebrations come amid a culture war.

USA Today

Originally Posted: June 14, 2021

Andrew Torget, a Clements Center fellow, is quoted in this USA Today article with mention of his award winning book  Seeds of Empire.

In the wake of 2020’s racial reckoning over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, the celebration of Juneteenth spread outside the African American community.

Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and 19th, commemorates June 19, 1865 — the date when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, informing the Galveston, Texas, community that President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved African Americans in rebel states. It’s also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.

A year later, Juneteenth comes as Congress struggles to pass sweeping legislation that would protect the rights of voters of color and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which bolsters police accountability.

The day also drops into a culture war, as state legislatures attempt to ban school discussions of the long-lasting effects of slavery, systemic racism and critical race theory.

A decades-long push to make the day a federal holiday continues: On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill to make it so.

But Juneteenth’s increasing popularity coincides with a concentrated effort to limit public relearning of precisely what it asks America to remember: how the nation’s early history of enslaving African Americans affects current legislation that restricts voter access and marginalizes voters of color. READ MORE