Juneteenth is the oldest American holiday celebrating Black Americans descended from the formerly enslaved. Known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Jubilee Day, it has been celebrated by Black Americans since the late 1800s. The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of slavery, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. In 1980, Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as an official state holiday, and in 2021 it was officially recognized as an American Federal holiday; It is commemorated through various events across the United States, including Burlington and Vermont.
Juneteenth is a day to celebrate Black Americans who descend from slavery honoring their struggle and achievements throughout history and reflecting on the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equality that still exists. Through this intentional commemorative act, we mark and celebrate resilience and creativity and elevate Black people who have been the backbone of this nation but often cast in its shadows to center stage in Burlington.
This year's Juneteenth celebration theme, "Embrace &
Belonging," speaks to the collective work we must do as a community to continue the efforts to actualize the promises of freedom and the right and privileges afforded to full citizenship in the United States, Burlington, and Vermont. "Embrace & Belonging" encourages Burlingtonians to intentionally practice and support Black people living authentically in all places and spaces.
As we celebrate Juneteenth 2023, we must remember that freedom is not a destination but a journey. True "Embrace and Belonging" is a long and often difficult struggle. Still, we can draw strength from the legacy of resilience and creativity that Black Americans have displayed throughout our history.
Our theme of "Embrace & Belonging" is a call to action for all of us across Burlington to continue to rise to the challenge to be proactive in creating spaces where the Black Burlingtonians experience is one of radical belonging. We all continue to strive for a society where we value and respect the humanity of all people.
The Juneteenth Celebration aligns with the REIB (Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) office pillars, ensuring that the celebration is comprehensive and meaningful in its impact on the community. By integrating these pillars into our purpose and mission, we aim to create a holistic and inclusive Juneteenth Celebration.
By thoughtfully incorporating the REIB office pillars into our Juneteenth Celebration, we are taking purposeful steps to create an event that is not only a joyful and vibrant celebration but also one that makes a lasting, positive impact on our community a whole.
5 PILLARS of REIB
Our celebration will support economic growth by providing a platform for local artists, performers, vendors, and small businesses to showcase their talents and offerings. We contribute to a more equitable and vibrant economy by promoting economic opportunities and supporting local entrepreneurship.
& HUMAN DEVELOPMENT:
The Juneteenth Celebration advances social and human development by offering educational workshops, historical exhibitions, and cultural presentations. By fostering greater awareness and understanding of African American history and culture, we contribute to our community members' personal and social development.
The celebration prioritizes the well-being of attendees by creating a safe and inclusive environment. Inhabiting spaces where marginalized communities have historically felt like they didn’t belong. This event reminds everyone that this city is for all communities.
We will promote holistic health by incorporating wellness activities and providing spaces for relaxation and reflection. Additionally, we will ensure that public health guidelines and security precautions are implemented to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all.
The Juneteenth Celebration is a unifying event that celebrates diversity and inclusion, bringing Burlingtonians from all backgrounds to connect, engage, and appreciate our shared history and values. Central to our mission is fostering a sense of community and belonging. Through collaborative efforts with community organizations, we aim to create a space where everyone feels welcomed and valued.