Juneteenth Commemoration & Legacy

Woman and Color Swirls

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day enslaved African Americans in Texas finally received news of their freedom. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, declaring enslaved people in Confederate states free. As a result, a war ensued between Union Army soldiers in the North and Confederate soldiers in the South. It was the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that marked the end of the war and the (so-called) end of slavery, but the news traveled slowly. It wasn't until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, that the enslaved people there learned of their liberation.

Juneteenth quickly became a day of celebration for Black communities across the United States. It is a day to remember the legacy of slavery and those who suffered. It also serves to honor the bravery and resilience of our ancestors.

For East Point Peace Academy (EPPA), Juneteenth is significant as a day of:

  1. Reflecting on History: Honoring the resilience and perseverance of African Americans who fought against slavery and continue to fight against racial injustices today.
  2. Celebrating Freedom: Celebrating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and remembering the importance of freedom and human dignity.
  3. Educating and Raising Awareness: Educating the community about the history of Juneteenth, its significance, and the ongoing challenges in the pursuit of racial equality.
  4. Committing to Nonviolence and Justice: Promoting nonviolent direct action and social change, working towards a just and equitable society free from oppression and discrimination.

Thoughts on Juneteenth

Juneteenth is a significant day in African American history. It marks June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers announced the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas. This announcement came two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth celebrates freedom and marks the end of slavery in the United States. However, the effects of slavery persist, especially within the criminal justice system.

Slavery's Legacy in the Criminal Justice System

  1. Historical Roots: The criminal justice system has deep ties to slavery and its aftermath. After emancipation, discriminatory laws like Black codes and convict leasing targeted newly freed Black individuals, perpetuating systems of control and exploitation.
  2. Mass Incarceration: Slavery's legacy contributed to mass incarceration, where Black Americans are disproportionately represented. Despite making up about 13% of the U.S. population, Black individuals account for approximately 33% of the prison population. This disparity is linked to systemic racism, poverty, lack of access to education and employment, discriminatory policing practices, and harsh sentencing policies.
  3. Racial Disparities: Black Americans are more likely to be arrested, convicted, and receive harsher sentences compared to white Americans for similar offenses. These disparities reflect ongoing racial bias within the criminal justice system, affecting every stage from arrest to sentencing.
  4. Prison Labor: The practice of prison labor, where incarcerated individuals, including many Black prisoners, perform labor often for little to no pay, mirrors exploitative labor practices from slavery and post-emancipation convict leasing.
  5. Impact on Communities: Over-incarceration of Black individuals significantly impacts their families and communities, contributing to cycles of poverty, trauma, and social marginalization, affecting economic opportunities, educational attainment, and overall community well-being.

Addressing the Legacy

Recognizing Juneteenth and understanding its historical significance is crucial for acknowledging the enduring impacts of slavery on American society, particularly within the criminal justice system. Reform efforts must address systemic racism, promote equitable treatment, support alternatives to incarceration, and tackle the socioeconomic factors contributing to disparities in arrest and sentencing.


While Juneteenth marks the formal end of slavery, its legacy persists in systemic inequalities, especially within the criminal justice system. This underscores the ongoing need for reforms to achieve racial justice and equality in America.


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  • Diana Ballard
    followed this page 2024-06-19 12:31:10 -0700
  • East Point Peace Academy
    published this page in Blog 2024-06-19 12:19:43 -0700