This annual holiday celebrated by the Black community in Texas and other southern states in the United States on June 19th is known as Juneteenth. It is designated as an official holiday in the United States as of 2021.

Green Party of Philadelphia

Juneteenth has been commemorated and celebrated for over 150 years by communities across the country; it is now the second year that Juneteenth is recognized as an official City holiday in Philadelphia this year. There are several programmes and events to commemorate Juneteenth.

Moreover, the Green Party of Philadelphia participated in the Juneteenth celebration in Malcolm X Park on 51st and Pine Street with other organizations. The events started with a march at 9AM, following live music sessions, and discussions. On June 19th, the Green Party of Philadelphia published a picture with the caption “Come join us at @MalcolmXPark to celebrate #Juneteenth

During the publicity of the event, the Greens called against the commercialization of Juneteenth at a press release on their website. They have referred to an article written by Green Party and Black Alliance for Peace activist ,Margaret Kimberley, which called the most common narratives used in this appropriation usually “give dispensation to bad actors and sanitize awful truths”

The true story of the past would be kept hidden and the story of the present would be sugar coated.

-Margaret Kimberley

What is Juneteenth and how not to celebrate it ?

In the aforementioned article, Kimberley explained the historical background of the Juneteenth as such: “Juneteenth commemorates the events of June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston and announced that slavery ended as per General Order Number 3.

“It is an important event that ought to be remembered, but its true significance has been lost.The untold importance of the Emancipation Proclamation is that it established the right of escaped people to join the army. Juneteenth has become the latest iteration of liberal capture of Black politics, opportunistic virtue signalling, and the intentional misrepresentation of America’s history.”

Green Party’s approach

In an interview with Global Green News, Chris Robinson, leader of the communication team for Green Party of Pennsylvania and member of the Green Party of Philadelphia answered a few questions about the approach to Juneteenth among the Green Party members and “how not to celebrate Juneteenth”.

Question: On the Green Party US website, Green Party of Philadelphia stresses the fact that as Juneteenth gets designated an official holiday, it has also been appropriated and commercialized. Can you elaborate more on the tone of the Green Party towards the commercialization of Juneteenth?

Chris Robinson: We have all witnessed the commercialization of the Birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. since 1994. Instead of celebrating and emulating King’s life of resistance and struggle, MLK Day is now called “a day of service.” We are being taught by the government and media to celebrate King’s life without including King’s opposition to militarism or his leadership of mass demonstrations. They have tried to erase from our memory King’s work for civil rights and labor union rights. Many people, along with Green Party members are concerned that the same thing will happen with Juneteenth, now that it has become a national holiday.

Question: Considering the demonstrations against the ongoing and uprising racial injustice that happened last year, where do you think Juneteenth should be situated? Should it be an opportunity to discuss these racial injustices, or should it be a “feel good” day with celebrations?

Chris Robinson: The Green Party believes that Juneteenth should be seen as a counter-celebration to the Fourth of July. Unfortunately, the Fourth of July celebrates a freedom, which was declared by slaveholders in 1776. That declaration left four million citizens in slavery. Juneteenth, on the other hand, has historically been understood and celebrated as a rebirth of freedom. The heritage of slavery still haunts U.S. society in the form of institutional racism and xenophobia. The Green Party will work to commemorate Juneteenth as a day of resistance against oppression instead of a substance-free feel good day. 

If you are interested in events organized by the Green Party US, check out their calendar.

For the City of Philadelphia Juneteenth celebrations and more information on their Juneteenth programme, click here. 

Zeynep Karageldi

Zeynep is from Izmir, Turkey. She is a second-year undergraduate student at McGill University in Montreal pursuing a BA in Political Science. Passionate about environmental science and environmental law, Zeynep likes to address issues from both scientific and political perspectives as a writer. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies and traveling.

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