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CW: Mention of hate crimes, AIDS, slavery, and racism.

June is a big month for awareness and commemoration events. It can be hard to take in a lot of information about these important occasions, so let’s break down a few of them.

You probably already know that June is Pride Month, which is dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ2SIA+ identities. However, there’s a lot of history there that isn’t always talked about. June 28, 1969, was the start of the Stonewall Uprising, a rebellion of LGBTQ2SIA+ activists fighting against the police brutality that they were often victims of. The revolt was sparked by the unjust raiding of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. The events of Stonewall finally brought the gay rights movement to the mainstream news. On Stonewall’s one-year anniversary in 1970, the first pride marches were held in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The New York City parade was the biggest success, spanning 50 blocks with thousands of participants. Pride Month was first federally recognized in 1999 when President Bill Clinton designated June as “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.” In 2009, President Barack Obama gave it the more inclusive name of “LGBT Pride Month.” 

Pride parades are held throughout June in cities across the globe, alongside more solemn events to commemorate those lost to hate crimes and AIDS. These celebrations are often still met with bigotry and violence, especially in countries where the LGBTQ2SIA+ communities are heavily oppressed, like Russia, Serbia, and Turkey. Showing support and celebrating pride is more important now than ever, with record-breaking numbers of anti-LGBTQ2SIA+ legislation filed in 2023 alone, limiting the community’s access to healthcare, equal opportunity, and more.

Another important historical celebration that takes place in June is Juneteenth, short for June 19th, marking the outlaw of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth specifically commemorates the day that the last group of enslaved Black Americans learned of their freedom, a pivotal moment in a new chapter of American history moving towards equality. It reminds us of the ongoing struggle for racial equality in the United States while also celebrating Black American contributions to society. 

The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 freed slaves in states not under Union control, but about 1 million people remained enslaved. Texas was viewed as a “safe haven” for slavery as it remained under the control of the Confederacy. When the Civil War ended in 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19th and announced to the 250,000 enslaved people there that they had been freed. The 13th Amendment passed later that year formally ended slavery in the United States. In 1866, free Black people in Texas began an annual celebration of “Jubilee Day” on June 19th. The Juneteenth celebration spread and grew each year after that, and became a federal holiday in 2021 under President Joe Biden. Annual festivities for Juneteenth celebrate Black American history, resilience, and advancement since “America’s second independence day.” Festivities often include red foods and drinks, like red velvet cake and strawberry soda, since the color red symbolizes sacrifice and power. There are readings of the Emancipation Proclamation and traditional songs like the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” are performed.

Juneteenth is a day of empowerment, resilience, and cultural celebration, but it is also a call to action to continue to work towards a more just and equitable society. Its celebration each year serves as a reminder of how far the nation has come and how far it still has to go in the pursuit of equality for all.

The June celebrations of Pride Month and Juneteenth embody powerful movements and brave people, as well as pivotal moments in history for the LGBTQ2SIA+ and Black communities in their fight for rights and recognition. By recognizing these events together, we emphasize a unified commitment to combating all forms of discrimination and reinforcing the intrinsic value of diversity and inclusion within our society.

Works Cited

Alfonseca, Kiara. “Record Number of Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Filed in 2023.” ABC News, 28 Dec. 2023, Editors. “Pride Month 2023: Origins, Parades & Dates.” HISTORY, 8 May 2023,

Metcalf, Meg. “Research Guides: LGBTQ+ Studies: A Resource Guide: Stonewall Era and Uprising.”, Library of Congress, 1 June 2019,

“The History of Pride.” Library of Congress, 2024,

National Museum of African American History and Culture. “The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth | National Museum of African American History and Culture.”,

Nix, Elizabeth. “What Is Juneteenth?” HISTORY, 19 June 2015,

Taylor, Derrick Bryson. “So You Want to Learn about Juneteenth?” The New York Times, 18 June 2020,“The Civil War.”,

“The History of Pride Month.” Joint Base Andrews,“The Meaning and History of Juneteenth Foods.”



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