Juneteenth is an annual commemoration of the end of slavery for all African Americans in the United States after the Civil War that has been celebrated since June 19, 1865.
On June 19, 1865, two months after the Civil War ended, a Union general, Gordan Grander arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African Americans that the war had ended and that they were free.
The Path to Freedom
More than two years earlier, the Emancipation Proclamation, opens a new window paved the way to the abolishment of slavery, freeing enslaved people in the states currently engaged in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” In January of 1865, the 13th Amendment, opens a new window passed the House of Representatives and was finally ratified on December 6, 1865, outlawing chattel slavery involuntary servitude (except as a punishment for a crime).
Over the centuries, Juneteenth was celebrated locally within African American communities, considered the “longest-running African-American holiday” and has been called “America’s second Independence Day.” Some states and local governments have recognized the holiday but it wasn’t until June 17, 2021, that the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was signed, making Juneteenth a federal holiday in the United States.
Learn about Juneteenth, the history behind it, and the celebration through African American essays and stories.
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