What is Juneteenth?

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

On June 19, 1865, two-and-a-half years after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, TX to issue the above order freeing enslaved people in this, one of the last Confederate holdouts following the end of the Civil War.

On paper, the Emancipation Proclamation freed over 3.5 million enslaved people. For some, the end to slavery didn’t come swiftly. Not being told of their freedom, they remained in servitude for years. For others, this news came as a complete shock, finding themselves unable to envision a life outside of slavery. Still others immediately took to the roads, leaving their plantations to make a new life in the north.

“Now we are free. What do we want? We want education; we want protection; we want plenty of work; we want good pay for it, but not any more or less than anyone else…and then you will see the down-trodden race rise up. ” —John Adams, a former slave.

An evolving term, freedom for formerly enslaved people had a very different meaning than what we may be used to today. For them, freedom meant an end to “masters,” beatings, and the selling of spouses, children and family members. Freedom became their rallying cry, the promise of which pushed them to strive for opportunities to educate themselves and take their rightful place as full citizens.

Juneteenth (“June” + “19”) is the name given to subsequent annual celebrations following the date when enslaved people in Galveston, TX found out they were free. In the years that followed, formerly enslaved peoples used this date as a reason to celebrate, gather (or remember) lost family members, and to imbue in their next generation the values of knowing where they came from and self-improvement.

On this, the 155th Anniversary of Juneteenth, the Argonne African American Employee Resource Group celebrates this step in our ongoing and collective history of triumph over adversity. Every day, we look to Argonne’s Core Values as symbols of that same triumph.

With Respect, we welcome the perspectives of others and grow from shared experiences. With Teamwork, we leverage each other’s skills, working together to create the science that changes the world. And with Integrity, we exhibit respect for ourselves and adhere to a morality that lifts all and leaves none behind.

We welcome you to explore the resources and events below to find out more about Juneteenth and its meaning to black Americans.

Resources: Juneteenth: The American holiday is also known as Emancipation Day and Black Independence Day. (Live Science)

Events: Race in America: The Legacy of Juneteenth with Lonnie G. Bunch III

Black History Month Lunch & Learn

Come and celebrate African American history and contributions to US Arts and Culture with the Argonne African American Employee Resource Group (AAA-ERG) on Wednesday, January 19th at noon at the Krypton area in the Argonne Cafeteria (Building 213).

We will host a viewing of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. a documentary television series where celebrities are led through a “book of life” that is compiled with information researched by professional genealogists that allows them to view their ancestral histories, learn about familial connections and discover secrets about their lineage.

For more information please reach out to Dr. J’Tia Hart [email protected] or Mr. Harold Gaines, AAA-ERG President [email protected] 

Honoring MLK’s legacy through service

By Phyllis Hayes and Harrel Townsend, Jr.|
for the Argonne African American
Employee Resource Group


he national observance of King’s birth was the fruit of much struggle. For 17 years following his death, there was no national MLK Day. After a protracted political campaign, legislation passed in 1986 making January 15 a national holiday commemorating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Twenty-five years ago, the focus of the holiday shifted to service to others, in keeping with Dr. King’s legacy, and the national Martin Luther King Day of Service was begun.

On this day, we challenge ourselves to combine our respective strengths and passion to provide solutions to our most

pressing national concerns. Every member of the Argonne community can strive this goal for daily in their professional lives. Let us not take this day of service for granted, and remember the principle that Dr. King’s life modeled for us: Progress is neither comfortable nor guaranteed. While Argonne seeks science and engineering solutions to grand challenges for the nation and the world, our service and direct action can cut through cynicism and negativity to improve our communities.

If we wish never to grow numb to King’s tremendous sacrifice nor to the meaning of his life, then this holiday beckons us to search within ourselves. In Dr. King’s own words, “Every [one] must decide whether [they] will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”

| Posted by | Focal Point

Celebrating MLK Day 2017

Dr. King’s words of hope continue to inspire today

By Harold Gaines, Argonne African American Black Club President

Today, on the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I would like to share with you an excerpt from Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech from 1964. Dr. King shared his thoughts and vision with the international community at a tumultuous, expectant and hope-filled time in our nation’s history. His words and his peaceful dream for our nation continue to have relevance today. I hope his message inspires you as it continues to inspire me each day. » Continue reading “Celebrating MLK Day 2017”