A bill was passed precisely one year ago, commemorating the emancipation of slaves in the United States, and establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
On June 19, 1875, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, declaring the end of slavery for African Americans, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln.
Now that it’s officially recognized as a federal holiday, school celebrations will occur more frequently.
P.S. 233 The Langston Hughes School, located at 9301 Avenue B, wasted no time educating its students about Juneteenth prior to the festivities held in their schoolyard on Friday, June 17th. Principal Denean Stephens-Spellman explained, “We spent the last few months ensuring students understand the significance of the holiday and celebrating the freedom of African-American pride. We concentrated our efforts this year, in the spring, to ensure that the celebration was relevant and they knew exactly why they are out here dancing and singing.”
Students from Pre-K to 5th grade danced and played musical instruments inspired by African culture, such as drumming, and held their creative posters high with pride. Teachers, parents and the community gathered to watch all the hard work that these children put in for months.
Parent Callyane Xavier, whose 7-year-old daughter attends the school, enjoyed watching all the performances. Xavier told the Canarsie Courier, “I feel so proud that the children have been exposed to Juneteenth; it’s breathtaking. My daughter was excited to tell me about all she learned and got up extra early to prepare for this day.”