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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.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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