History of Juneteenth

By Kathy Andrews-Williams
PPH resident

Did you know that there’s more than one Independence Day in the U.S.?

In June, Americans observe Juneteenth, (blending “June” and “Nineteenth”) commemorating June 19, 1865, the day when last enslaved peoples in Texas learned they were free. Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated observance of the ending of slavery, not only memorializes the resistance, courage, and triumphs over oppression but also the continuing legacy of resilience for freedom, justice and equality.

In 2016, nonagenarian activist Mrs. Opal Lee walked from Texas to Washington, DC advocating to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Today, at age 97, she is known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” whose efforts led Congress to pass legislation. The Juneteenth National Independence Day is a legal public holiday signed into law by President Joseph Biden on June 17, 2021.

The Emancipation Proclamation issued on Jan. 1, 1863, didn’t end slavery or free all slaves because it took more than two years for enslaved Texans to learn about their freedom. Most importantly, The Proclamation declared freedom for all enslaved, and equality of rights and property between the new “Freedmen” and their former slave masters who rejected this arrangement. Freedmen migrated to more accommodating regions in the North.

Formerly enslaved people established their own parks to celebrate Juneteenth as Black Americans were forbidden from using public spaces. As a result, “Emancipation Park“ in Houston, Texas remains one of the oldest emancipation lands for Juneteenth events. In addition, Juneteenth traditions vary across the country with parades, contests, concerts, and oral traditions.

PPH celebrates Juneteenth

By PPH Marketing & Communications

PPH has established its own Juneteenth traditions. This year’s celebration will lead off with a resident and staff bocce ball tournament. A special meal will follow, courtesy of our Dining Services team. After everyone digests their food, they’ll head over to the PPH Social Hall for a Freedom Festival which consists of dancing, music, cornhole and a History of Juneteenth presentation. Our bowling alley — located in our Wellness Center — will also be available that day. All residents are encouraged to attend any of the festivities, and staff are encouraged to join in the fun throughout the day as long as their work schedule permits.

The PPH community is thrilled that celebrating Juneteenth has become an annual occurrence. It’s a day that brings the community together through education, games, dance, music and fun!

“I’m honored to live in a community that comes together to commemorate the ending of slavery and celebrate African-American culture,” said Carol Drummond, a PPH resident who leads the resident-committee that organizes activities on Juneteenth.

Echoing Carol’s sentiment is Dr. Nancy Koury King, PPH’s Interim President and CEO.

Celebrating Juneteenth is important and gratifying  and is one of the many special aspects that makes our senior living community a wonderful place to live and work,” said Dr. King.



Local Juneteenth Celebrations
• West Philadelphia activities – juneteenthphilly.org/
• Germantown – johnsonhouse.org/juneteenth-festival/
• Citywide/WAWA Welcome American/
African American Museum – aampmuseum.org/
• Cherry St. Pier – cherrystreetpier.com/event/2023/05/juneteenth-wine-arts-festival/
• Museum of the American Revolution
• Constitution Center – constitutioncenter.org/calendar/juneteenth-2024