President Joe Biden has signed a bill that will make Juneteenth a federal holiday, less than a week after Daniels’ entry in The Players’ Tribune.
June 19th, 1865 is an important date in American history. Unfortunately, its significance is not well advertised towards a large portion of the population.
69 days after the conclusion of the Civil War, U.S. troops took control of the state of Texas in the town of Gavleston and read aloud General Order No. 3 to its citizens, which declared all slaves to be free. Texas was the last state to recognize the Emancipation Proclamation.
This date later became known as Juneteenth, short for June 19th.
Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Mike Daniels remembers celebrating on this day growing up, but he didn’t use to know why.
Daniels took to The Players Tribune this week to share the story of his own lack of awareness towards Juneteenth and declare his support to make the date an official federal holiday.
It took Daniels 25 years for him to become aware of what Juneteenth was. He mentioned it was one of the few things his mom or dad never taught him about; the same mom who grew up in North Carolina in fear of lynchings and the KKK marching into her town. Having also not learned about it in school, Daniels was finally informed by his wife just seven years ago.
Daniels is far from the only American who grew up unaware of what June 19th means, and he believes that an important step towards raising awareness is by making it the country’s 11th federal holiday.
“By creating a federal holiday, the prominence of Juneteenth will continue to grow. And with each new gathering there will be an increased opportunity for people to learn about this country’s history. In addition, with a holiday in place, we’d be ensuring that more and more schools will dive in and teach kids about the history behind that day. And then those kids can help teach their friends, and when all of them grow up they’ll be able to teach their kids. And on and on.”
Awareness for Juneteenth has grown in recent years. Nearly every state officially recognizes it as a holiday, but only a handful have made it an official paid holiday for their employees.
Ohio is a state that recognizes Juneteenth, but as a kid that grew up here, I also had no idea what it was throughout my entire childhood and teenage years. If the date is made an official holiday, it stands to reason that it would be required teaching for American youth going forward.
Check out Daniels’ full story here.