Juneteenth

Join us for Freedom Day - June 19th

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Since its establishment in 1844, YMCAs have been sites of historical, social and cultural moments. YMCAs and the African American community have a long and interesting history. In 1853 (eight years before the Civil War and ten years before slavery officially ended), Anthony Bowen, a freed slave founded the first YMCA to serve the black community in Washington, D.C.” To this day, the YMCA is proud to serve and work with Black communities throughout the country.

As we continue to support our Black communities through educating ourselves, racial justice efforts, and supporting local Black businesses, let us enjoy a quick history lesson on Juneteenth, the historic holiday every proud American should be ready to celebrate.

HISTORY OF JUNETEENTH

WHAT:
Juneteenth is our country's second Independence day and celebrated on June 19th of every year.

WHO:
Enslaved people in the westernmost confederate state of Texas.

WHEN:
While the Emancipation Proclamation had abolished slavery on January 1, 1863, enslaved African American Texans did not learn about their freedom until this day two and a half years, when some 2,000 union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were free by executive decree.

WHY:
Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under confederate control. Although many slave owners knew about the Proclamation many refused to respect the Proclamation and continued overseeing enslaved people as property for two and a half more years. This is why June 19, rather than January 1, is considered the day we celebrate freedom from slavery.

HOW WE CELEBRATE:
Juneteenth is celebrated locally, nationally, and worldwide. It is a day of reflection, renewal, and pride. Parades, festivals, and church services are organized to commemorate and respect the sufferings of slavery and the progress made by African Americans to US history.

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You can also get involved by completing our Juneteenth coloring sheet. Sheets available for all ages! Just return to the Welcome Center for display.

DOWNLOAD COLORING SHEET FLAG COLORING SHEET

HOW TO GET INVOLVED:

Attend a Conversation

The Story and Modern Contextualization of Juneteenth

Hear from Professor Laurence Glasco on the history of Juneteenth and its relevance and celebration today.

This event is in collaboration with Mission Continues.

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Support Black Owned Businesses in Pittsburgh

BlackOwnedPGH is a growing Instagram page that markets Black-owned businesses in Pittsburgh. Find your new favorite restaurant or shopping area and support black owners in your community.

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Watch and Reflect

With the Galveston landing of U.S. Army Gen. Gordon Granger in 1865, slavery in Texas ended. African bondsmen became freedmen, and women and children likewise became African Americans. Many left the plantations to join freedom colonies; others sought out opportunities in cities and towns. Today, the consequences of gentrification and rising property values challenge new generations.

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