BlogAppalachia Life and Literature

Celebrating Juneteenth in Appalachia

By June 16, 2023June 14th, 2024No Comments

By Annie Regan and Claudia Di Lima

June 14, 2024

Each year, the month of June marks the anniversary of Juneteenth — the day in 1865 that news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas, and enslaved African Americans became aware that they had been freed.

This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. That news—long delayed by the slaveholders, in a state under Confederate control until the end of the war, set off wide ranging celebrations among the 250 thousand enslaved Black people in Texas. 

The delay was telling. It was an early signal that real change would face resistance and take time to implement. While slavery in its most horrific form was abolished, the exploitation and oppression of Black and brown people (as well as other groups) continue today.

But there was, and is, cause for celebration and education. That is part of the meaning of Juneteenth: It shows us that while change is too slow, change IS possible. When white allies join the celebration of Juneteenth, they are working to heal the moral wounds that are result of the (often unconscious) participation in the system that has caused so much pain to so many.

Here at ReImagine Appalachia, policy is our love language, and we are working on tangible pathways to reimagine our region that is more inclusive and prioritizes opportunities in the new energy economy for Black workers. This means making sure Black-led organizations and residents are involved early on in the Community Benefits planning process to say what their communities should look like!

So, as we continue our work to make a more sustainable and equitable Appalachia for all, let’s also join in on the celebration of Juneteenth and amplify the work from our Black partners! We encourage you all to check out the great work our friends at the Black Appalachian Coalition.

And start the celebrating by playing our Juneteenth Playlist featuring Black Appalachian musicians:

Events in Appalachia

Learn how Appalachia is celebrating with this event list created by the Black Appalachian Coalition. This document provides an overview of the background, significance, and continued legacy of this historic date.

learn how Appalachia is celebrating juneteenth