WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the National Organization for Women celebrates Juneteenth, commemorating the day 154 years ago when Texan slaves learned that the Civil War was won and they were free. On June 19, 1865, over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Major General Gordon Granger and his regiment arrived in Galveston, Texas and issued General Order Number 3, finally making emancipation a reality in the region.
Juneteenth is an annual tradition that grew nationally out of the festivities and joy that Granger’s announcement brought. It is a day of celebration, liberation and defiance, and for remembering the strength and achievements of African Americans, while also recognizing the horrors of slavery.
Yet this important date still receives little attention — and often outright hostility — from those outside the Black community. School textbooks identify the Emancipation Proclamation as ending slavery, ignoring that it persisted for years in some regions. The relative obscurity of Juneteenth in our national dialogue serves as a reminder that white supremacy is still entrenched in how Americans understand our history — and its impact on the present.
This Juneteenth, we recognize the importance of dismantling the legacy of slavery in our society in order to truly realize the importance of equality and liberation for African Americans. NOW’s intersectional approach to feminist advocacy asserts that women of color will not be free without a women’s movement that is both anti-sexist and anti-racist. This understanding informs all our work to protect reproductive rights, advocate for economic and racial justice, end violence against women, assert LGBTQIA+ equality and eradicate gender discrimination.