Now recognized as the official national holiday Juneteenth National Independence Day as of Thursday, June 17, 2021, this is a very happy Juneteenth.
Juneteenth, also known as Jubilee Day, and traditionally celebrated on June 19, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It originated in Galveston, Texas, after Union Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in the state on June 19, 1865. Before Granger’s announcement, Texas was slow to enforce the freedom of slaves according to President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
In observance, here is the poem “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems by Maya Angelou.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.