Juneteenth marks the anniversary of June 19, 1865, a monumental date in American history that commemorates freedom and symbolizes the end of slavery in the United States.
Over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted, Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas. By declaration that the civil war had ended, more than 250,000 African Americans learned that they were no longer enslaved. The day represents liberation, a celebration of civil rights, and cultural pride. It’s also a reminder that the United States cannot turn a blind eye from history as it looks to rebuild a safe, inclusive, free future for all.
While Juneteenth still has not been declared a National holiday, many music companies this year will be recognizing the day as a company holiday.
June 19 falls in the middle of Black Music Month, which started in 1979 but was officially recognized by Congress in 2000. The New York Times ‘1619’ podcast series, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, features an episode called “The Birth of American Music.” In this episode, the host Wesley Morris, an American journalist, film critic, co-host of the podcast ‘Still Processing’ and critic-at-large for the New York Times, explains the history of Black music. Genres that we recognize as “American music” (Blues, Jazz, R&B, Country, etc.) are rooted in Black culture, and therefore would not exist at all without it. He says “I know that there is something irresistible and ultimately inevitable about Black music being a part of American popular music. But it also reminds me that there’s a history to this, a very painful history. And in the most perversely ironic way, it’s this historical pain that is responsible for this music.”
The Orchard offices in the U.S., as a division of Sony Music, will observe Juneteenth this Friday, June 19 to acknowledge the importance of this historic day. It is a reminder that Black music “became the sound of complete artistic freedom. It also became the sound of America.” And that dates back to four centuries ago when music was born from hope.