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The Powerful Story of Juneteenth
Juneteenth may be the most recent federal holiday, but it’s one of the oldest celebrations in American history.
The date commemorating the end of slavery in the United States has been celebrated by African Americans since the late 1800s.
But how did it come about? Here’s a quick history lesson.
Freedom started for some of America on July 4, 1776, when the U.S. declared its independence from Great Britain.
But it took nearly 90 years to free the millions of enslaved African Americans across the United States. The Emancipation Proclamation came into effect at midnight on the first day of January 1863. President Lincoln declared the more than three million enslaved people in the Confederacy to be free.
However, it took over two years for that news to reach more than 200,000 African Americans still enslaved in Texas. Finally, on June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the abolishment of slavery in the Confederate states.
The former slaves began celebrating their newfound freedom. The following year, they came together on June 19 to celebrate in that very same spot in Texas. It became an annual tradition.
A Story of Freedom
The holiday tells a powerful story. Unlike July 4, which celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of the American quest for independence, Juneteenth offers a different perspective. It celebrates the date the last slaves were finally freed, underscoring the significance of those two-plus years between the Emancipation Proclamation and June 19 that has profound implications for our culture today.
Juneteenth, also known as “Freedom Day”, “Emancipation Day” or “America’s Second Independence Day” has become a celebration of African American culture nationwide.
Countless corporations began observing this federal holiday in the workplace, and it finally became the 11th federally recognized holiday in the United States in 2021.