What is Juneteenth?
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared a formal end to slavery in the United States. However, change was not instant after the proclamation. Nearly two and a half years later, on June 19th, 1865, the enslaved African Americans of Galveston, Texas got the news by way of the Union army troops that freedom had come at last.
The next year, the people of Galveston commemorated that day as Juneteenth, a celebration of freedom. Since then, it’s been observed in communities and states as a holiday, but officially recognized as a federal holiday in 2021.
Why is the holiday called Juneteenth? The name blends the month and the day this news reached the people of Galveston: “June” plus “nineteenth” is Juneteenth. It’s also often called Emancipation Day or Freedom Day.