As anti-racist Black Lives Matter protesters in America and around the globe demand liberation from the systemic racism and police brutality that plagues the world at large, June 19th is swiftly approaching – remembered as extremely important in the United States, even though it has never been recognised as a national holiday.
For some important context, June 19th – otherwise known as Juneteenth (or Freedom Day) in the US – is a holiday celebrated by American citizens annually which commemorates the end of the American Civil War – specifically known as the official end of slavery in the United States on June 19th, 1865.
See the end of the article for more historical information!
As previously mentioned, Juneteenth has never officially been recognised as a national holiday in the US: however, as we have seen in previous weeks as the fight for racial justice continues, the music industry has stood in strong solidarity with anti-racist protests and continues to fight for liberation with their tools at hand – including demonstrations such as #TheShowMustBePaused, a movement started by two black women working in the music industry, which saw music publications halt the posting of all articles on June 2nd earlier this month.
Now, in a report by Billboard, various music corporations have declared that June 19th will annually be a full day paid leave company holiday – not only to celebrate the liberation of those enslaved in 1865, but to take the time to reflect on, learn about and continue the battle against racism within the music industry and outside of it.
These companies include the likes of Sony Music, Warner Music Group, BMG, ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and Spotify. Spotify have also announced they will be exclusively featuring music by Black artists on ‘New Music Friday’ on Juneteenth.
Here is some historical context in detail: on June 19th 1865, following the end of the American Civil War which saw Northern States pitted against Southern States, who at the time had chosen to disband from the Union to form the Confederate States of America. Yes, that Confederacy – whose flag is now synonymous with slavery and racism. The American Civil War between the North and South was ignited over the call for the abolition of slavery, which did not please Southern Confederate States.
On Juneteenth 1865, two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation legislation which sought to free all African-Americans who had been enslaved in the Confederacy, it was announced by Union soldiers (the north) that the civil war had ended, and all those enslaved in Texas (the south) were officially emancipated and could finally live as free people.