(Lubbock, TX) - Juneteenth, the holiday observed by some states that celebrates the freeing of Texas slaves after the Civil War, will become a national holiday this year if the Rev. Ronald V. Myers Sr. is successful in his crusade.
Myers, national chairman of the Juneteenth Holiday Campaign, visited Lubbock's Patterson Library on Friday to promote the national observance of the holiday and to donate a book about Juneteenth to the library.
June 19, 1865, is the day Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with the news that slaves had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Freed Texas slaves began an annual celebration of June 19 on the first anniversary of the day, and the holiday eventually began to be known as Juneteenth.
Myers presented a copy of "Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom" by Charles A. Taylor to Helen Viser-Fitzgerald, the Patterson Library branch manager and librarian. He and Taylor have been friends since they attended the University of Wisconsin together, he said.
According to the book, Juneteenth is considered to be the day the last slaves in America were freed.
Myers said 31 states now recognize Juneteenth as either a state holiday or a state holiday observation with government offices closed. The most recent was Kansas, which passed legislation about two weeks ago, he said.
In addition to promoting the national observance of Juneteenth, Myers also recognized June as Black Music Month and promoted Maafa, which is sometimes called the African Holocaust or the Holocaust of Enslavement.
Maafa is a Swahili word that means great calamity or disaster and refers to the suffering of Africans through slavery and the deaths of millions of Africans on slave ships. It is observed annually on the third Friday in June, he said.
Myers, who is also a jazz musician, brought out a miniature trumpet and played a spirited jazz version of "Misty" at the Friday news conference when he was talking about Black Music Month.