What Is Juneteenth?

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Written by Guy Nave

On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill establishing Juneteenth, June 19, a US federal holiday.

  • freedom to live wherever we want to live
  • freedom to go to school wherever we want
  • freedom to work and play wherever we want
  • freedom to exist without fear of being victims of racialized violence
  • freedom from racial disparities and inequities that diminish our quality of life

One hundred and fourteen years later in 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official state holiday. Since then 48 other states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday (South Dakota is the only state to not observe Juneteenth). This year Juneteenth became a US federal holiday.

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About the author

Guy Nave

Guy Nave is a professor of religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. His research focuses on the topics of Christianity, religion and social justice, the social construction of religious meaning, and race-religion-and-politics. Professor Nave is currently researching the power, politics, and meaning behind the rhetoric of "change."

He is the author of several articles and book chapters, and he served as a New Testament Greek translator for the 2011 Common English Bible. His commentary on 2 Corinthians is published in the African American New Testament Commentary, and his book, The Role and Function of Repentance in Luke-Acts has been identified as “the standard scholarly work on repentance in the New Testament.”

Guy Nave received his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his Ph.D. in New Testament studies from Yale University. In addition to his blog posts here, he is a frequent contributor to Sojourners Magazine's online "Commentary" blog series.


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