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Juneteenth is a historical holiday that commemorates the day when Black Americans who had been enslaved in Texas were finally informed they’d been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. On that day, June 19, 1865, some 250,000 people were finally freed, two and a half years after the Proclamation had been signed and two months after the Confederate army had surrendered at Appomattox.  

In 1980, Texas became the first state to declare June 19 a holiday and in 2021 the day was officially made a federal holiday. But long before then, many African Americans celebrated the day, some with parades and BBQ, others with pilgrimages to the city of Galveston where Union General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, enforcing the Proclamation and freeing all remaining enslaved persons. The order, which was reprinted in newspapers nationally, declared “an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property” to those enslaved persons. Today, in many cities around the US, communities celebrate this pivotal moment in the country’s history and remember the long struggle toward freedom that African Americans were forced to endure. 

Save the Date: June 19, 2024

Save the date for Juneteenth 2024! Event information will be published as details are solidified. Stay tuned to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion’s event mailing list and socials (@uofuedi on FacebookInstagram, and X) to be the first to know about programming updates.


Wave of Freedom

The Juneteenth 2023 theme, “Wave of Freedom,” was an affirmation of every person’s right to equity and dignity. The first wave began in 1863 with President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, while General Order No. 3 and the 13th Amendment (ratified by Congress in December 1865) were the last surges toward finally dismantling the institution of slavery in the country. While Juneteenth is a reminder of delayed freedom for many Black Americans, it is also an opportunity for everyone to reflect on how we can ensure the country continues to live up to its founding principles of liberty and justice for all.


Juneteenth at the U

After the Utah Board of Higher Education’s approval of adding Juneteenth to university calendars, the University of Utah’s campus celebrations highlighted Black resilience, determination, and progress while examining the continuing struggle for racial justice.

Juneteenth is a time to celebrate and commemorate the triumphs of generations who fought for freedom, believing that justice and equality are their rights as American citizens. While true equality is yet to be achieved, June 19, 1865, marked the day where the dream of being free turned into reality and that hope for a better and equal life began.

Going forward, and for all future years, this holiday will be included as part of the University of Utah’s regular holiday schedule.