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California Juneteenth Holiday Bill - AB 1655 - Our Unique Journey From Slavery to Freedom
by Khubaka, Michael Harris
Since 2003, California has recognized Juneteenth through Assembly Bill 1749 (Longville) and signed into law by Governor Gray Davis. However, today 20 years later, it is our goal that Juneteenth through Assembly Bill 1655 (Jones-Sawyer) becomes an official California State Holiday.
Why an Official California Juneteenth Holiday important?
June 19, 1865 is the agreed upon date to celebrate Freedom in America, NJOF (1994).and aligns with Federal Law. Celebrating Juneteenth across America and beyond.

Beginning in the mid-15th Century, the Trans-Atlantic Trade in Human Cargo began by Papal Edict authorizing Portuguese and Spanish Military conquest and capturing prisoners of war on the Africa continent..

In August 1619, enslaved African prisoners of War, were then stolen by Pirate’s and brought to the British Colony of Virginia at Fort Mose, VA, Genesis 15:12-14, 2019 and we see the fulfillment of prophecy unfolding today.

America’s Peculiar Institution, showcasing enslavement and dehumanizing values and beliefs inflicted upon people of African Descent, remains an ongoing journey toward equity and inclusion throughout America.

The election of President Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States was the final straw or catalyst for the secession from the Union of 11 out of 15 slave states who then created the Confederate States of America to preserve the institution of enslavement of people of African Descent for eternity.

In 1860, 7 slave states sent representatives to Montgomery, Alabama State Capitol “The Heart of Dixie” and elected Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederate States of America, forming an alternative government with the intent to be completely independent from the United States of America.

Confederate President Davis moved his Capitol to Richmond, Virginia as his strategic War effort intensified in Virginia. From 1861-1865 the bloody and costly US Civil War remains a painful, yet essential part of our American History.

On June 19, 1865, at the final Confederate Port of Galveston Island, Texas, General Gordon Granger issued Field Orders and led a 7 week Military Campaign to seal the US-Mexico Border, enforce the Emancipation Proclamation as a fit and necessary War Measure and confiscate vast quantities of Cotton to replenish the US Treasury.

The formerly enslaved people of African Descent rejoiced, prayed, cried, and declared that day “Freedom Day,” “Emancipation Day,” or Juneteenth (“June” plus “nineteenth”). It had been almost 2 ½ years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the January 1, 1863, Executive Order known as the Emancipation Proclamation.

After President Lincoln assignation on April 4, 1865, Southern Tennessee Senator, Vice-President Andrew Johnson assumed the US Presidency as the President Jefferson Davis of the Confederate States of America refused to surrender the US Civil War.

Reportedly, by many Union and Confederate Military strategists, the addition of fresh and motivated United States Colored Troops proved to be a major determining factor in the US Civil War.

Newly found freedom by people of African Descent, Plantation by Plantation, throughout US Civil War battlefields slowly marched and sailed towards Texas and the final “Slave” state in succession, where chattel slavery continued throughout the US Civil War.

Who should celebrate Juneteenth in the State of California?

“Slavery in California” remains an open secret. An Official California Juneteenth Holiday, aligned with the Official United States Juneteenth Holiday creates a new and essential space for education, advocacy, and healing. Celebrating Juneteenth provides a unifying platform for all California resident to discover authentic California History and begin to celebrate our common bond of freedom.


The Civil War, ignited by the issue of slavery and known to be one of America’s bloodiest wars—cost thousands of California lives, both black and white. Today, the continued journey toward freedom engages people from all backgrounds across California and across the country.

Every person, family, community, town, and business can discover and celebrate Juneteenth!

Where is Juneteenth celebrated?

Juneteenth is celebrated both in the United States and throughout the rest of the world.

The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, (NJOF), is one of the oldest organizations advancing the charge to make Juneteenth a national holiday. NJOF was instrumental in getting Juneteenth as Federal Holiday after 49 states recognize Juneteenth.

Since 2003, California has recognized Juneteenth through Assembly Bill 1749 (Longville) and signed into law by Governor Gray Davis. However, today 20 years later, it is our goal that Juneteenth through Assembly Bill 1655 (Jones-Sawyer) becomes an official California State Holiday.

Many countries such as Japan, Ghana, Guam, and Mexico also celebrate this holiday. The African Union, European Union, Caribbean, and South America has a unique journey to embrace Juneteenth.

How is Juneteenth celebrated?

Juneteenth celebrations include everything from cookouts, caravans, and parades to re-enactments, poetry readings, church events, and flag-raising ceremonies. Juneteenth celebrations include programming that highlight world history and the interruption of global African achievement.

Community leaders statewide celebrate Juneteenth in the following ways:

• Supporting legislation to make Juneteenth an official state holiday • Supporting initiatives to officially recognize Juneteenth in local and county government • Hosting educational events and panel discussions • Hosting community events like family pool parties • Leading Juneteenth Car Caravans • Hosting Juneteenth movie nights • Leading Juneteenth Drum Circles • Church Worship Services • Interfaith Gatherings • Official Juneteenth Flag-raisings • And much, much, much more…

What is the symbolic meaning of the Juneteenth Flag?

The Juneteenth Flag represents the end of slavery in the United States. It was designed by former NJOF Massachusetts State Director, Ben Haith, in 1997. The white star in the center of the flag represents Texas, the Lone Star State, and the birthplace of Juneteenth. The outer starburst symbolizes the spread of freedom for all African Americans throughout the United States. The arch extending across the center of the flag, symbolizes a new horizon - new beginnings, hope & optimism for a new and better future. The red, white, and blue colors echo the American Flag and is a reminder that the formerly enslaved, and the descendants of the formerly enslaved, earned full Americans citizenship through Armed Services during the US Civil War.

Why the color “red?”

It represents the blood that was bravely shed by enslaved and formally enslaved people of African Descent during the middle passage and beyond. It also represents the blood that continues to be shed in pursuit of The American Dream.

• Support legislation to make Juneteenth an official California State Holiday by supporting AB 1655 as it makes its way to the Governor Newsom’s desk.

• Be a part of history, urge your elected offiicals to vote to approve AB 1655 Juneteenth Holiday Legislation to make Juneteenth a California State Holiday.

• Like us on Social Media: @AllThingsJuneteenth @CaliforniaJuneteenth @NJOF
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