Americans are waking up to the importance of Juneteenth and it may become a national holiday
via @keekeesimpson / Twitter

Every year on July 4, Americans everywhere celebrate their independence from British rule with fireworks, hot dogs, and plenty of over-the-top displays of patriotism. However, when the U.S. declared its freedom in 1776, hundreds of thousands of people living in the U.S. were enslaved.

All Americans became truly free on June 19, 1865, a day that would come to be known as Juneteenth. On that day, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves two-and-a-half years earlier and the Civil War with had ended with the defeat of the Confederate States in April. But Texas was the most remote of the slave states, with a low presence of Union troops, so enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent.


The announcement is known as General Order No. 3.

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Gordon Grangervia Wikimedia Commons

Although the order promised "absolute equality," race-based oppression didn't end on that day nor has it been completely eradicated in the United States.

Juneteenth is now known as "America's Second Independence Day" and throughout the years has been celebrated primarily by African-Americans with family reunions, bar-b-ques, beauty pageants, religious services, dance performances, and strawberry soda.

Forty-six of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or ceremonial holiday, a day of observance. However, the federal government has yet to make it a national holiday which would be a paid day off for many workers.

In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May and the ensuing protests, the movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday is gaining momentum.

Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has introduced multiple resolutions to recognize the historical significance of Juneteenth. On June 15, her latest attempt has received support from more than 200 cosponsors. She also plans to introduce a bill that would make it a federal holiday.

"There needs to be a reckoning, an effort to unify. One thing about national holidays, they help educate people about what the story is," Jackson Lee said according to Time.

"Juneteenth legislation is a call for freedom, but it also reinforces the history of African Americans," she continued. "We've fought for this country. We've made great strides, but we're still the victims of sharp disparities."

Opal Lee, 93, has started a petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday and it is close to reaching 300,000 signatures.

"I believe Juneteenth can be a unifier because it recognizes that slaves didn't free themselves and that they had help, from Quakers along the Underground Railroad, abolitionists both black and white like Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, soldiers and many others who gave their lives for the freedom of the enslaved," Lee wrote in the petition.

"My goal with this petition and my walk is to show the Congress and the President that I am not alone in my desire to see national recognition of a day to celebrate 'Freedom for All,'" Lee adds.

After the petition reaches its goal, it will be sent to the president and Congress.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racism protests that have sprung up across the country, businesses throughout America are honoring Juneteenth by giving their employees paid days off.

Twitter and Space are one of the first major companies to announce it would be honoring the day.

Shortly after, Nike CEO John Donahoe declared that Juneteenth would be a day off for his employees across the globe to celebrate black culture and history.

"Our expectation is that each of us use this time to continue to educate ourselves and challenge our perspectives and learn," Donahoe wrote in a memo. "I know that is what I intend to do."

The NFL has announced it will observe Juneteenth and several teams announced they would be recognizing the holiday, including the Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, and Las Vegas Raiders.

Hella Creative, a Bay Area collective has created a list of companies that have announced they will honor Juneteenth. The action comes part of its HellaJuneteenth campaign to spread knowledge about the holiday and encourage companies and individuals to honor the it by not working.

Hella Creative has also created a document that employees can use to request the day off from their employers that also encourages them to consider making it a holiday.

"Although our company has not celebrated this holiday in the past, I would like to request that we honor the day this year and moving forward," the request reads.

Since its founding, freedom has been one of the most prominent values espoused by the United States of America. Americans have shed blood for our freedoms at home and sacrificed for its spread abroad. Making Juneteenth a national holiday would be one more way that America help honor its commitment to freedom while acknowledging it still has a long way to go before all of its people are truly free.

Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

"But I recently made TikTok and said I'd share it on that and I'm so glad I did now!" he continued.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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A teacher's message has gone viral after he let his student sleep in class — for the kindest reason.

Teachers spend time preparing lesson plans and trying to engage students in learning. The least a kid can do is stay awake in class, right?

But high school English teacher Monte Syrie sees things differently. In a Twitter thread, he explained why he didn't take it personally when his student Meg fell asleep — and why he didn't wake her up.

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via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

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