After just a few months in office, President Joe Biden signed the Bill that would officially recognize Juneteenth as a Federal holiday. This was 2021, 156 years since enslaved African Americans received word of their emancipation. This date marked the independence of African Americans, yet it wasn't until the Black Lives Matter movement popularized and brought attention to the day on a National level that the Culture began to receive the recognition it does today.
Due to the efforts of leaders such as Tunisia Morrison, the Juneteenth celebration was marked historically. Her organization, "Check on Your Black Friends" lit the path, in collaboration with the Juneteenth in Queens (JIQ) coalition, which would inspire New York State Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman of the 29th assembly district to collaborate and "introduce a bill to codify the liberation journey for the Black diaspora in 2020."
This bill, signed into law in October 2020, paid the foundation for President Joe Biden to declare and officially recognize the date by signing a Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into action.
Morrison's team states "Two years later the mission continues, while NY State recognizes the holiday federally, not all states have designated Juneteenth as a permanent paid and/or legal holiday through legislation or executive action." It is her commitment to the culture and her community to honor not only our independence, but the strides made through an annual Juneteenth celebration.
Juneteenth in Queens is a week-long fête, from June 12 to June 19, hosted by Check on Your Black Friends Inc. (COYBF) "alongside federal, state and local elected officials and agencies" to "commemorate African-American freedom and culture." A celebration in the park (Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans, NY) closes out the week on the actual Juneteenth holiday and according to the Juneteenth in Queens website, it is complete with a multitude of “Black-tivities happening in the park."
The press release on the event highlighted a "virtual education series" through the week and vendors to support at the park... "over 60 Black-owned businesses on grounds ranging from beauty, fashion, health, wellness, health and art" as a few of the attractions.
Below, are photos of last year's event and links for further information. It is this work that is inspiration for the culture to build upon; to take the history of Juneteenth into our individual communities and further acknowledge, empower and rejoice.
It is so imperative that we continue to keep meaningful traditions of our ancestors alive." said Tunisia Morrison, Founder Check on Your Black Friends Inc.
About Check on Your Black Friends Inc.
Check on your Black Friends Inc. (COYBF) was birthed out of pure necessity in 2020. With civil and human rights organizing and protests occurring nationally, the need to educate, advocate and take action in communities of color was in dire need. COYBF serves as a bridge to programming and access to understanding civic engagement and social impact for diverse communities.
About Juneteenth in Queens Festival
Juneteenth in Queens Festival is a community-empowered programmatic initiative that centers Black Creativity, Black Business, Black Love, Black Wealth, Black Networking, Black Opportunity, Black Excellence, and Black Joy. Since the summer of 2020, multiple Queens communities have reconnected to highlight, celebrate, and commemorate the history of Black Ancestors and their journeying to liberation through Juneteenth.