Juneteenth has had a number of names over the years: Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Black Independence Day. Its official name is Juneteenth National Independence Day.
No matter how we refer to it, we’re speaking of an important day in the nation’s history: On June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger proclaimed the abolition of slavery in the State of Texas. Juneteenth began in Texas and is now observed nation-wide. On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed a bill declaring June 19 a Federal holiday.
Juneteenth joyfully recognizes the remarkable resilience of Black America and its cultural, historical, and social contributions to the life of the country. It also serves to remind us that we must always denounce racism and oppression wherever they raise their ugly heads. We must work to make the dream of liberty and justice a reality not just for a few – but for all.
Carrie Law Morgan Figgs (1878-1968) was a pioneering Black poet, playwright, and educator. In honor of Juneteenth I’d like to share her 1920 poem “We are Marching” with you.
We are marching, truly marching  
   Can’t you hear the sound of feet?  
We are fearing no impediment  
   We have never known defeat.  

Like Job of old we have had patience,  
  Like Joshua, dangerous roads we’ve trod  
Like Solomon we have built out temples.  
   Like Abraham we’ve had faith in God.  

Up the streets of wealth and commerce,  
   We are marching one by one 
We are marching, making history,  
  For ourselves and those to come.  

We have planted schools and churches, 
   We have answered duty’s call.  
We have marched from slavery’s cabin  
   To the legislative hall.  

Brethren can’t you catch the spirit?  
  You who are out just get in line 
Because we are marching, yes we are marching  
   To the music of the time.  

We are marching, steady marching  
   Bridging chasms, crossing streams  
Marching up the hill of progress  
  Realizing our fondest dreams.  

We are marching, truly marching  
   Can’t you hear the sound of feet?  
We are fearing no impediment 
   We shall never know defeat. 

In case you missed our latest Black at Hostos Town Hall, we encourage you to learn more about the origins of Juneteenth by clicking here.
I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Juneteenth!
Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D.