Juneteenth is celebrated and observed as Emancipation Day, a day of freedom. Juneteenth provides opportunities for reflecting on the past while affirming the human dignity of all persons. It is celebrated in cities across the country by people of all races, nationalities, and religions to support and honor black history and culture.
History of Juneteenth
June 19, 1865, is a day signifying freedom. General Granger and Federal Troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, with a federal order signaling independence for all enslaved Texan people. Despite the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, Texas was the last Confederate state where enslavement continued. Since Texas was the most remote state in the confederacy, the troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
When the news finally spread, celebrations broke out among the newly freed, and Juneteenth was born. The following year, freedmen in Texas organized celebrations on June 19th. These celebrations featured music, barbecues, prayer services, and other activities. As people started to migrate from Texas, so did the festivities that would continue over decades to come.
Freedom for all
Juneteenth is a day celebrating freedom for all. June 19, 1865 was a momentous day when all people were finally independent, and legal human bondage in America was abolished. This day has many names, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, each describing why this day is celebrated and vital. It is a day commemorating freedom in America for all.
Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the emancipation of those enslaved that they could finally make choices for themselves. Enslaved people did not have the privilege to work or live as full citizens. They were owned and treated like they were just another possession. Juneteenth is a day to celebrate everyone’s freedom to participate in the rights and responsibilities of all Americans.
June 19th is a time to rejoice with African Americans and others as they joyfully embrace their rights as Americans despite all the obstacles faced. While work remains, today we can celebrate the progress our nation has made in recognizing the unique contributions of all people since that critical day in 1865. Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the freedom and rights that have changed for the better since that first Freedom Day.
Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth
There are many big and small ways to commemorate Juneteenth. Here are a few ideas on how to celebrate and honor this holiday.
- Host a barbecue and cook some traditional foods
- Attend a prayer service or parade in your community
- Support black-owned businesses
- Educate yourself and reflect on the meaning of “freedom”
- Watch Juneteenth events online
- Visit an exhibit or museum dedicated to black culture
- Volunteer for a local organization supporting human dignity
We hope that all take time to reflect and embrace this important day in American history.