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.