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What is Juneteenth and why it is celebrated

Friday is Juneteenth – learn the history behind the holiday
Posted at 7:49 AM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 14:46:08-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Today marks Juneteenth. It's a day meant for commemorating the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas first learned they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln.

Juneteenth is short for June 19, 1865. When the slaves learned they were free, they were so happy they started dancing and celebrating. Generations of African American communities have celebrated this day since then.

News5 spoke to a local NAACP leader about the significance of this holiday. Roxana Mack, President of the Pueblo Chapter, says Juneteenth is about recognizing the humanity of African Americans. It's also about celebrating the freedom that was owed and deserved.

"It's the freedom that we have, that's what Juneteenth is all about," Mack said. "We want to celebrate the fact that the slaves were free and emancipated. It's also about honoring our culture."

As the conversations about race and equality continue and as our nation comes to grips with its painful history, more and more businesses are deciding to recognize this day as a company holiday.

At Target, the company says its stores and distribution centers will remain open, but the company's headquarters will be closed. The company said it will give team members the "space to honor Juneteenth in their own way." Target employees who do work will get time and a half, and all eligible employees have the option to take the day off with full pay.

Nike, Twitter, US Bank, and Best Buy are also choosing to recognize this day a company holiday.