Juneteenth Celebration at Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park

Alan Franklin Group
The Alan Franklin Group, headlined by Muzicnet co-owner Alan Franklin center with the blue guitar, performed on Juneteenth Saturday. (Photo: Barbara Sturges)

University Park, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Saturday was a day for celebration at the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park: the first-ever Juneteenth that was both a state and federal holiday. According to resident Barbara Sturges, who attended the event, the Alan Franklin Group performed at the park. Alan Franklin is co-owner of Muzicnet in Downtown Park Forest. The Village of Park Forest co-sponsored the event, according to Ms. Sturges.

“They were excellent,” Ms. Sturges said. “They performed songs done by Billie Holiday in front of the sculpture called Yes fir Lady Day.”

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Photos courtesy Barbara Sturges.

Juneteenth Becomes a State and Federal Holiday

Illinois was the last state so far to adopt Juneteenth as a paid state holiday. By 2019, 47 states and the District of Columbia ceremonially observed Juneteenth. By 2020, only Texas observed it as a paid holiday for state employees. Illinois made it a paid state holiday this year, but that does not go into effect until January 1, 2022. That will be for all state employees and it will be a school holiday only when it falls on a weekday. Because Juneteenth falls on a Sunday in 2022, the first paid holiday for state employees will be in 2023.

President Biden signed the law enacting Juneteenth as a paid federal holiday on Thursday and the federal government wasted no time giving employees the day off. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced that most federal workers would take the day off this past Friday. Banks were closed on Saturday.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery throughout the United States. Although Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in the Confederacy with his 1862 Emancipation Proclamation. While the Emancipation Proclamation legally ended slavery, enforcement of the Proclamation relied on the advance of union troops. That didn’t happen in Texas until 1865 when U.S. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, which informed the people of Texas that all enslaved people were now free:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Juneteenth: Original Document

The racist language in the last sentences of the Order clearly demonstrates that “the fight for equal rights would continue.” (archives.gov)

General Order No. 3, issued by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, June 19, 1865.
General Order No. 3, issued by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, June 19, 1865. The order was written in a volume beginning on one page and continuing to the next. (Archives.gov)

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery throughout the entire United States in 1865:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

constitutionproject.org

Section 2 of the 13th Amendment grants Congress the power to “enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

There is an excellent site here on Juneteenth: https://juneteenth.com/. However, as of this writing Saturday, the site is down, evidently getting hammered with traffic this weekend. I strongly recommend you check it out when it comes back online.

Explore the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park on your own or with friends and family: