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Juneteenth 2020: What is Juneteenth? When is Juneteenth?

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The United States is currently embroiled in some of the largest scenes of civil unrest since the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. The death of George Floyd has reignited decades of anger about the treatment of black people by America’s police and criminal justice system, and a momentous day in black American history could add to the ongoing tensions.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth takes place on June 19. It is the holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the state of Texas in America.

It is also known as Emancipation Day and is recognised as the official day of remembrance for the end of slavery.

But 155 years after the news of their emancipation finally reached slaves in Galveston, Texas, the nation is still struggling with the issues of systemic racism and injustice.

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The end of slavery was announced on June 19, 1865, and ever since the date has been celebrated as a day of freedom across the USA.

Union Army Major General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and told slaves of their emancipation.

Granger read to a crowd: “In accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862.

In total 47 US states and the District of Columbia mark June 19 as a state holiday or observance.

Communities across the country celebrate it with food and festivities, but despite a push by activists over the years, Juneteenth still isn’t a federal holiday.

And, throughout its history, it has often been overlooked by non-black Americans.

The day is even more poignant than usual this year, with continued action being taken in America and across the world against institutional racism.

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The death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has caused widespread protests after years of hurt and racist policing plaguing the United States.

President Donald Trump is hosting a campaign on Juneteenth in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of one of America’s deadliest acts of racism ever seen.

In 1921, tensions between Tulsa’s black and white communities culminated in a white mob attacking black residents and burning black-owned businesses in a part of the city known as “Black Wall Street”.

The President has remained mostly silent on issues of systemic racism and has resisted some of the changes proposed by protesters.

Democratic lawmakers and progressives sharply criticized his decision to press on with the rally despite recent events.

Former Democrat contender Senator Kamala Harris tweeted: “This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists — he’s throwing them a welcome home party.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked by journalists this week what the important date meant to Mr Trump.

She said: “The African American community is very near and dear to his heart.”

She added: At these rallies, he often shares the great work he has done for minority communities,” citing criminal justice reform and funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Ms McEnany said: “He’s working on rectifying injustices … So it’s a meaningful day to him and it’s a day where he wants to share some of the progress that’s been made as we look forward and more that needs to be done.”

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