BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Last June President Joe Biden signed a bill into law making Juneteenth a federal holiday and though it becoming federally recognized was met with some controversy, many African Americans felt it was long overdue.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. It was on June 19, 1865 that Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were now free.
In Kern County, many people gathered last year to celebrate this monumental day. For Professor of Ethnic Studies at Cal State Bakersfield Dr. Tracey Salisbury, this day holds a lot of meaning
“It’s key to an understanding of what it really means to be a full citizen in America and it’s a starting point date an idea of what freedom really means for Black Americans because the reality is people say 1776 is when America started but we weren't free then and we did not have the full right of law.”
One point Dr. Salisbury drove home is that although this was Black Americans Freedom Day, on June 19, 1865, many Black Americans still did not have full rights to citizenship. Still, she says this day is one of pride, remembrance, opportunity, giving back to the community, and more than that, a day to be inclusive and teach everyone this rich history.