Florida among 2 dozen states that do not recognize Juneteenth. What to know about holiday

America’s youngest federal holiday, Juneteenth, is rapidly approaching.

The holiday, which became officially recognized last year by President Joe Biden, has been around since the 1860s but received the national spotlight in 2020 amid nationwide protests after Minneapolis man George Floyd and Louisville, Kentucky, woman Breonna Taylor were killed during encounters with law enforcement.

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What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19 each year, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. A portmanteau of "June" and "nineteenth," Juneteenth symbolizes freedom, achievement, and the perseverance of African Americans throughout history.

Its celebration includes parades, barbecues, music performances, and various public and private events that honor African American culture and heritage.

Is Juneteenth a federal holiday?

Yes, Juneteenth was officially recognized as a federal holiday in the U.S. on June 17, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.

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When is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19.

Why is it called Juneteenth?

Texas was the last Confederate state where the proclamation was announced, and the first to recognize the date of June 19 – Juneteenth – statewide. The inaugural Juneteenth to commemorate the official day enslaved people in Galveston were freed began in 1866. The holiday, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, spread across the country as African Americans migrated away from the South.

The “Juneteenth” name references the date of the holiday, combining the words “June” and “nineteenth.”

Why do we celebrate Juneteenth?

It is a lesser-known fact that the Emancipation Proclamation did not result in all enslaved African Americans being freed. Juneteenth is part of recognizing the conditions undergone by some Americans unknowingly liberated by law. The proclamation guaranteed freedom to enslaved people in secessionist states like Texas, but not Union states like Maryland, which did not secede during the Civil War. The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, freed all enslaved people in the country.

Juneteenth is also a day to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture. Through its celebration, people can foster mutual respect and understanding among all races and ethnicities.

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How is Juneteenth celebrated?

Juneteenth is celebrated nationwide with parades, barbecues, competitions for "Miss Juneteenth," rodeos, races and block parties, according to Juneteenth.com, a resource website. A reading of the Emancipation Proclamation is also commonplace.

"Happy Juneteenth Day" is considered an appropriate greeting to mark the occasion, according to the website. The color red is also symbolic. It is featured on the red, white and blue Juneteenth flag and symbolizes that "from the middle passage to George Floyd, our blood has been spilled across America," according to Steve Williams, president of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.

Is Juneteenth celebrated in Florida?

While Juneteenth is a federal holiday, only about half of the states recognize it as an official holiday.

About 24 states and the District of Columbia legally recognized Juneteenth as a public holiday, according to a 2022 Pew Research study, but pointed out that a Connecticut law signed last year would recognize the holiday this year, and alluded to other states considering legislation to officially recognized the holiday.

Florida, along with states like California, Hawaii, Pennsylvania and more than two dozen others don’t officially recognize the holiday and don’t have the day on official calendars as a paid holiday.

Florida was one of three states in the 1990s to commemorate Juneteenth as a day of observance, and some county commissions and city councils have independently declared Juneteenth a recognized holiday and closed offices.

What’s the difference between Emancipation Day and Juneteenth?

Juneteenth and Emancipation Day are often used to describe the same June 19 holiday. But emancipation dates differ depending on the state.

Florida celebrates its Emancipation Day on May 20, in reference to the date emancipation was proclaimed in Tallahassee in 1865.

Retired Tallahassee educator Althemese Barnes believes Florida made a “historical travesty” by officially listing June 19 as the day slaves were emancipated in Florida. The actual date of Emancipation in Florida is May 20. Last year, after President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday, some Republicans also chimed in to support the Florida date.

When legislators tried to make Juneteenth a paid holiday for state employees, Barnes rounded up historians and some NAACP members to fight the measure.

“Juneteenth has a flashy sound. It has a buzz to it,” said Barnes, who also founded the John G. Riley House and Museum in Tallahassee. “But you don’t need to put inaccurate history in your Florida statutes.”

Contributors: J.D. Gallop - Florida Today

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Is Juneteenth celebrated in Florida? What to know about holiday