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Friday: Juneteenth, 'The 2nd 4th Of July,' Commemorates End Of Slavery In U.S.

Coffee Wright founded the St. Louis Inner City Cultural Center Enterprise 20 years ago. This year, the organization is partnering with the Missouri History Museum for a Friday night Juneteenth event. This photo is from her group's second annual Juneteenth
Coffee Wright founded the St. Louis Inner City Cultural Center Enterprise 20 years ago. This year, the organization is partnering with the Missouri History Museum for a Friday night Juneteenth event. This photo is from her group's second annual Juneteenth

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Friday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

Juneteenth, sometimes called Freedom Day or Jubilee Day, is one of the oldest celebrations practiced in the United States. And it has taken on added significance during periods of the country’s history where the push to end racial inequities has been in the spotlight. 

Celebrated annually on June 19, Juneteenth commemorates the abolition of slavery in the United States. When President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, it granted freedom to enslaved persons held by rebel slaveholders in the Confederacy. 

But there were exceptions: The executive order didn’t include the pro-Union border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware. It also had little to no impact on enslaved people in Texas, since there weren’t enough Union troops in the state to enforce it, until two years later. 

Amid the current political movement prompted by the police killing of George Floyd and the demonstrations that followed, more entities are calling for Juneteenth to be recognized as a national holiday. It has been an official holiday in Missouri since 2003, but the associated celebrations were mainly limited to community gatherings, particularly in black communities. That was until Coffee Wright organized an official parade celebration in 2016 that returns each year.

Wright refers to Juneteenth as “America’s second day of independence,” since black Americans were still enslaved on Independence Day in 1776. She’ll join Friday’sSt. Louis on the Air to talk with host Sarah Fenske about the holiday's origins and local commemoration of it. 

What are your favorite ways to celebrate Juneteenth? If you’re not familiar with the holiday, what would you like to know about it? Tweet us (@STLonAir), send an email to talk@stlpublicradio.orgor share your thoughts via our St. Louis on the Air Facebook group, and help inform our coverage.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

 

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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