History of Juneteenth

Significance of Juneteenth – June 19th, 1865

Juneteenth is America’s second independence day, symbolizing freedom for all people born on American soil.

Where the 4th of July provided freedom of the land and gave the United States its independence, the 19th of June or “Juneteenth” in 1865 represents the freedom of the people, ensuring liberty for all, through the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln. The subsequent orders of the 13th and 14th Amendment in the United States Constitution derived from these historical events in the Civil War period.

Juneteenth, Emancipation Days, and other freedom observances alike, is a time when families and their community reunite, rejoice, and reflect on their legacy as freed people in their country. With that spirit of celebration and collective significance, an ideology of what Juneteenth represents has grown with the event, leading to movements beyond the celebration, and into its symbolism for growth, opportunity and unity.

History of Juneteenth – June 19th, 1865

Juneteenth is a celebration that began in Galveston, Texas, upon the arrival of General Gordon Granger carrying General Order No. 3, which announced the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves who had not been informed of the signing for two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been in effect.

This news led to masses of African-Americans rejoicing in celebration of their freedom, expressed through praying, music, dancing and feasting. As freed slaves migrated from their plantations, seeking opportunity and reuniting with family, they carried the celebration of freedom with them across the United States and all over the world.

Observance & Holiday History

In 1979, Representative Al Edwards (D-Houston) established the first official holiday for Juneteenth in the state of Texas. Today, Juneteenth has state holidays or observances in over 30 states, led by the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF), an organization with directors and organizers from each state in the country working to see Juneteenth become a national holiday. For more information about NJOF, and to support national holiday efforts, please visit www.njof.org and www.19thofjune.com.

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