Tulsans Commemorate The 2nd Year Of Juneteenth As A Federal Holiday

Monday, June 20th 2022, 9:49 pm

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Juneteenth is the country’s newest federal holiday, and millions of Americans were off work on Monday.

Observance of the holiday varies across the nation. Less than half the states, including Oklahoma, recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday for government workers.

President Joe Biden signed the bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday last year, after it passed unanimously in the Senate.

Juneteenth is usually celebrated on June 19; because it fell on a weekend this year, the federal holiday is Monday.

Tulsans said the commemoration is more than a day off.

People in and around Greenwood are weighing in on how the holiday is being celebrated in Tulsa.

“That’s one of the most powerful words that we have in the English dictionary: Freedom,” said Freedom Culver, Historic Greenwood Chamber of Commerce.

Sunday marked 157 years of freedom.

“When we first were brought to this country, we wasn’t free. And our ancestors kept working at it. Eventually we became free. We reached the top. The pinnacle. Became the president of the United States. Became lawyers and educators and businesswomen, and businessmen,” said Culver.

June 19, 1865 marks the day when black slaves in Galveston, Texas found out they were free.

“Juneteenth is for all cultures and it’s for all people,” said Culver.

Most of Tulsa’s celebrations were held on Friday and Saturday.

Freeman Culver with the Historic Greenwood Chamber of Commerce said the city’s Juneteenth Festival was a success.

“We had scores of people here enjoying the music, the karaoke, the artists, the food vendors, the historic area of Black Wall Street,” said Culver.

"We've been celebrating here in Tulsa for a long, long time. So, this is nothing new,” said Donald Shaw.

"Tulsa is moving forward; it's just the beginning. So, it'll get greater. It'll get greater,” said Kevin Rogers.

Although it’s only been a federal holiday for two years, Rogers said it's been a long time coming.

People like Shaw and Rogers have been celebrating Juneteenth for many years. They’re glad to see the holiday become more widely observed.

"We still have a long way to go, but progress has been made,” said Shaw.

Culver hopes this will become more than a celebration.

“Patronize these businesses. Go to the culture center. Learn about the history. Tour all the different sites. Have an experience of what it means to celebrate African American success,” said Culver.

Culver said the chamber has partnered with Juneteenth Headquarters for the 2023 celebration and said Tulsa is sure to be in the national spotlight.