• Juneteenth •
Pronunciation: jun-teenth • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, proper
Meaning: Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. This African-American celebration remembers the day, June 19, 1865, when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached slaves in Galveston, Texas—two and a half years after it was issued.
Notes: Early celebrations evolved into political rallies and later into formal celebrations planned far in advance by Juneteenth committees. In early years these celebrations were commonly relegated by law to the outskirts of towns. However, many Juneteenth organizations eventually purchased tracts of land inside towns for the express purpose of holding the celebration. Many of them were named 'Emancipation Park' and some remain today. President Biden signed the bill June 17, 2021, passed unanimously in the Senate, making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
In Play: The 2021 celebration is being held in more cities across the US than ever before, marking the 156th anniversary of this brand new federal holiday. Neither the president nor Congress has the power to designate national holidays, so Juneteenth means a day off work for government workers only, most of whom celebrated Juneteenth yesterday.
Word History: Today's Good Word is a blend of June and nineteenth that sounds rather odd, since -teen-th is a suffix that usually attaches to numbers (teen is a variant of ten). June was taken from the calendar of the Romans, who named the month after their goddess, Juno, the wife of Jupiter and the goddess of the moon, marriage, and childbirth. Juno's name comes from the same PIE word (yeu- "youthful vigor") as the Latinate words, junior, juvenile, and our own Germanic versions, English young, German and Dutch jung "young", and Swedish ung "young". (Let us all join with Larry Brady, who originally suggested today's Good Word, in celebrating this unique US, and now federal holiday, and the freedom from repression it reminds us of.)