While much of the world only discovered the holiday of Juneteenth in 2020 amid the racial uprisings following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, “Freedom Day” has long been a staple in the Black American community, specifically in the South. While slavery in America was officially outlawed when President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official on January 1, 1863, it wasn’t until two-and-a-half years later that the last of the enslaved finally learned of their liberation.
The date June 19 commemorates the anniversary of the Union Army’s arrival in Galveston, Texas in 1865, when Union Army general Gordon Granger shared the long-announced news that all slaves were now free. The day was recognized as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.
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Black freedom has been hard-won and an uphill battle in all aspects of society, including the entertainment industry. Black people have certainly made strides in front of and behind the camera in recent years, but Black women — who are double, and even sometimes a triple minority — have often faced more obstacles than their male counterparts, especially when the stories they want to tell center Black women.
Legends like Zora Neal Hurston, Euzhan Palcy, and Julie Dash have laid the framework for Black women directors like Gina Prince-Bythewood, Kasi Lemmons, and Ava DuVernay. Now, these rising stars are pushing the narrative forward for a new generation of Black women storytellers. Let’s get to know them.
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