“Juneteenth may mark just one moment in the struggle for emancipation, but the holiday gives us an occasion to reflect on the profound contributions of enslaved Black Americans to the cause of human freedom. It gives us another way to recognize the central place of slavery and its demise in our national story. And it gives us an opportunity to remember that American democracy has more authors than the shrewd lawyers and erudite farmer-philosophers of the Revolution, that our experiment in liberty owes as much to the men and women who toiled in bondage as it does to anyone else in this nation’s history.” — Jamelle Bouie
President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 17, 2021, officially making Juneteenth a federal holiday for the first time since its creation in 1865.
It was on June 19th in 1865 that Major General Gordon Granger brought news to Texas that the war had ended two years prior and enslaved people learned that they had been freed. That freedom is what is now celebrated on Juneteenth.
Per juneteenth.com, “Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.”
Many traditions swirl around this long-acknowledged but only recently federally recognized holiday, traditionally celebrated with the reading of oral histories, strawberry soda, and barbecues. The fight to recognize the holiday at the federal level, or even culturally outside of Black communities, has been a hard one. As has become abundantly clear over the last few years, the fight for racial equality isn’t over.
In California alone, as of 2020, over 4 million people were living in poverty, 19% of who were African American, according to TalkPoverty.org. This was the highest percentage when looking at poverty rates by race.
Our team at GSO is working to combat poverty for everyone and making sure key resources are available to all. If you made under $57,000 during the tax year, you are likely eligible for free tax preparation services. In many areas, VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) provides free tax preparation throughout the tax season. And, if you made under $30,000, you are probably eligible for the CalEITC (California Earned Income Tax Credit). If you have children, you may be eligible for the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC) as well.
We provide a free calculator for you to use to calculate your eligibility at CalEITC4Me.org.
You may also qualify for even more help, including CalFresh and health coverage.