Juneteenth was just declared a federal holiday as of June 17, 2021. You may be thinking, “sweet, another day off of work,” but you probably don’t know what Juneteenth means.
June Nineteenth, 1865, federal troops showed up in Galveston, Texas, to ensure that all enslaved people were freed. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had declared that these slaves be freed two years prior, the troops had finally come to enforce the law. Juneteenth (a combination of June and Nineteenth) is the day that historians say was the end of slavery.
The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863 by President Lincoln. It had established that all enslaved people in Confederate states in rebellion be freed forever. The specific wording allowed slavery to continue in Union-controlled states. In addition, slaves in the Confederate states weren’t released right away, and it took many years of fighting before they were actually free.
When General Granger led the Union troops into Texas in 1865, it signaled freedom for 250,000 enslaved African Americans. That December of 1865, the 13th Amendment was created, which officially abolished slavery.
The first Juneteenth celebration happened the following year, in 1866 when freedmen in Texas organized “Jubilee Day.” In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday; several other states followed. But as of now, in 2021, Juneteenth is a national holiday.
How will you celebrate Juneteenth? Let us know in the comments below!