Today is Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
Why this date? Although President Lincoln’s Emancipation Declaration freeing all slaves in the Confederacy took effect on the 1st of January 1863, it took until June 19th in 1865 for slaves in Galveston, Texas, to hear the news from Union soldiers.
Not all slaves were freed by this date — and those who were continued to face many hardships — but June 19th came to symbolise the freedom of Black Americans. Despite many setbacks (including still not being federally recognised as a holiday in the US), Juneteenth has been celebrated since that time through things such as food, clothing, community and education.
Blues and swing are Black American music and dances and are therefore inextricably linked with Black American history and culture. Slavery is clearly a hugely impactful part of that history and continues to have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences in many forms, including discrimination, hostility and systemic injustice.
We recommend that everyone learn more about the significance of Juneteenth.