One day after President Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday, I was in Willowbrook at a local Juneteenth Celebration.
There were music, and celebration and joy. This event coordinated by Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell.
Juneteenth is a commemoration that has its roots in Galveston, Texas. It recognizes the actual ending of slavery in the United States.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Biden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday
In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than 3 million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free.
But it would take more than two years for that news to reach African Americans living in Texas. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865 the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. There was prayer, feasting and music in the streets.
The following year, on June 19, the first official Juneteenth celebration took place in Texas. Other states followed suit. Juneteenth has been a state holiday in Texas since 1980.
At the Ervin Magic Johnson Park Friday, I met many wonderful people, with moving stories. They had a deep connection to the Juneteenth celebration. There was the mother and daughter whose family hails from Galveston, Texas. Some of their LA friends had not heard of Juneteenth. To them, Juneteenth represented a pivotal moment in history left unwritten— until now. The young twenty-something daughter reflecting on Biden’s designation as a federal holiday told me Friday " I didn’t think I would live to see this day."
And another mom and daughter shared the powerful narrative too. Karina Rettig and young daughter Kayleigh watched intently. Ms. Rettig’s great grandparents had been slaves. She sent me pictures of her ancestors. And proudly said their names, Robert and Catherine Rettig.
On Saturday, June 19 a drive-through parade will be held across Los Angeles. It begins in Inglewood and will wind its way to Leimert Park. A newly vaccinated population now eager to get out and write a new chapter.