Juneteenth is coming on Friday. The holiday celebrates the emancipation of African Americans from slavery in the South and is keyed to the day the Emancipation Proclamation was read to the newly freed in Texas: June 19, 1865.
Through the years, the celebration has meant different things in different places to different people. It has spread steadily throughout the United States, its organic growth no doubt due to the fact that — of all the things we celebrate publicly in this country — the ending of chattel slavery should be one of the most auspicious. In Topeka, with its rich history of civil rights activism, Juneteenth has been a prime opportunity to share history as well as celebrate with family and friends.
This year, Juneteenth has a different cast. The ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and violence against African Americans in general has electrified communities across the nation.