Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Originating in Galveston, TX, in 1866, the holiday has since spread widely and has been celebrated annually on June 19 in various parts of the United States. Texas became the first state to recognize the holiday in 1979. The U.S. House of Representatives acknowledged the holiday in 1996. It was recognized as a federal holiday in June 2021.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, freeing the enslaved people in Texas and all the secessionist states of the Confederacy. Enforcement of the Proclamation relied upon the advance of Union troops. Juneteenth marks the anniversary of the announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army general Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation declared an end to slavery in the Confederate States, it did not end slavery in states that remained in the Union. For a short while after the fall of the Confederacy, slavery remained legal in two of the Union border states – Delaware and Kentucky. Those enslaved people were freed with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished chattel slavery nationwide on December 6, 1865.
If you love freedom, you cannot support slavery. Unfortunately, the practice continues all around the world and sometimes even here in the United States in various sweatshops. If you want to learn more, click here.
Image: Civil War reenactors at a Juneteenth celebration at Eastwoods Park, Austin, TX, in 1900.