Juneteenth 2020 Google Doodle Explains Meaning of Emancipation Anniversary

The 155th anniversary of Juneteenth is celebrated in today's Google Doodle. The animated video opens with Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation which was read by Major General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865. Granger arrived in Texas with 1,800 federal troops to ensure compliance in Confederate states, as many continued to defy the executive order for years.

This marked the day that slaves in Texas found out they were freed, two and a half years after the emancipation proclamation was mandated.

Angelica McKinley, the Project Creative Director of the 155th Anniversary of Juneteenth Google Doodle, said: "I can't begin to imagine what it must have felt like to wait in anticipation for freedom and then finally hear the words spoken aloud."

Early on, Juneteenth was celebrated in Texas, and in 1980, it was declared an official state holiday. While Juneteenth is not yet an official federal holiday, more than 300,000 people have signed a petition to have Juneteenth recognized as a national day of observance.

The president of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation told Newsweek that the organization is working with the Senate on legislation that would add Juneteenth to U.S. Code 36 as a day of national observance.

McKinley said: "I didn't grow up celebrating Juneteenth. It wasn't until I attended Hampton University, a historically Black university in Virginia (and home of Emancipation Oak, the site of the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation), that I learned about the holiday.

"I was shocked that schools back home hadn't taught us about the day and that my family was completely unaware of it."

Juneteenth Google Doodle
Google Doodle celebrates the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth with an animated video illustrated by Loveis Wise and narrated by LeVar Burton. Google Doodle

The 155th Anniversary of Juneteenth Google Doodle was illustrated by artist Loveis Wise, who said: "I hope that people can understand the deeper importance of Juneteenth and educate themselves more about Black history.

"I also hope that they are able to recognize how vital Black Americans have been in building and shaping this country."

The video is narrated by LeVar Burton, who reads the first stanza of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which was written by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson and is often called "The Black National Anthem."

Elijah Jamal, who produced the music for the Google Doodle, said he was inspired by Nina Simone, Beyonce, The Clark Sisters, Kendrick Lamar, and old Gospel hymns, and used "Lift Every Voice" as his foundation.

McKinley said: "Juneteenth is an American story about persistence, freedom, and joy no matter the obstacle. May this year's celebration provide an opportunity to honor the progress that's been made and reflect on the important changes that still remain ahead."

Juneteenth Google Doodle
Today's Juneteenth Google Doodle. Google