MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Juneteenth, a new national holiday, was signed into law by President Joe Biden this week.
Going forward, Juneteenth will be celebrated each June 19th across the nation.READ MORE: Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho On Mask Use For Upcoming School Year: 'Decision Cannot Be Rushed'
The holiday marks the arrival of Union troops into Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln had signed two and a half years earlier.
“Here in the state of Florida that date for us was May, 20th of 1865 when general Edwin McCook read the Emancipation Proclamation in Tallahassee,” said Professor Tameka Bradley Hobbs, Director, Social Justice Institute at Florida Memorial University.
So, in Florida, our Juneteenth is really May 20th.
Across the South, slaves learned they were free only after Union troops arrived, so there were “Juneteenth-like” events with different dates as Union troops arrived.
“Back when schools were segregated the Black schools, it was a holiday that was recognized so kids were dismissed to participate May 20th in the state of Florida,” added Hobbs. It was celebrated in the Black communities across the South, and while the new holiday is receiving much fanfare not everyone is on the bandwagon.
“I am not on this Juneteenth bandwagon celebration. I don’t know what it accomplished for Black people, slaves at the time,” said Dr. Marvin Dunn.
Dunn is an author, activist and former long-time FIU professor.READ MORE: Cleveland Clinic Weston Once Again #1 Hospital In Miami-Fort Lauderdale Metro Area
“Did not free slaves. So the Emancipation Proclamation did not impact 90% of the slaves in the country. I am not sure it should be celebrated. What should be celebrated is when Lee gave up at Appomattox and the North won the war, that freed the slaves.”
Juneteenth not well know beyond the nation’s Black communities.
This May 2021 Gallup poll reveals 12 percent polled were familiar, 25% somewhat, 34% a little bit and 28% knew nothing at all.
For years, Blacks pushed for the national holiday
“What’s a little false about this is it was after the protest of last year and the murder of Briana Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd.” Hobbs said. “That it became a search for a quick and easy way, may I add symbolic ways to celebrate and engage the Black community. That’s where I saw a lot more conversation about Juneteenth.”
Hobbs says the national holiday is a good thing, promotes conversation, educates:
Professor Hobbs says, “It was really our Fourth of July.”MORE NEWS: Calls Continue For Cuban Embassy In DC To Be Shut Down
Even after being enforced by Union troops, the Emancipation Proclamation had little effect for many ex-slaves with no real means to just walk away. They stayed, accepted menial wages, and lived under conditions not much different when they were enslaved by plantation owners.