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Juneteenth dancers.jpg
Dancers at 2019 Juneteenth celebration
Also calledFreedom Day or Emancipation Day
Observed byResidents of the United States, especially African Americans
TypeEthnic, historical
SignificanceEmancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederacy
ObservancesExploration and celebration of African-American history and heritage
DateJune 19
Next timeJune 19, 2020 (2020-06-19)

Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day[1] or Freedom Day, is an American holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, and more generally the emancipation of enslaved African Americans throughout the former Confederate States of America, outside Native American lands. Texas was the most remote of the slave states, and the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, was not enforced there until after the Confederacy collapsed. The name of the observance is a portmanteau of "June" and "nineteenth", the date of its celebration.[2][3] Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 46 of the 50 states.[4]

Observance is primarily in local celebrations. Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing", and reading of works by noted African-American writers such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou.[5] Celebrations include rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, or Miss Juneteenth contests.[6] The Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles, of Coahuila, Mexico also celebrate Juneteenth.[7]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Juneteenth: Freedom At Last
  • ✪ History of Juneteenth
  • ✪ TIPHC - Juneteenth - Part 1


( piano playing ) (T. Mychael Rambo singing) ♪ This world is one ♪ ♪ great battlefield ♪ ♪ With forces all arrayed ♪ ♪ If in my heart I do not yield ♪ ♪ I’ll overcome someday ♪ ♪ I’ll overcome someday ♪ ♪ I’ll overcome someday ♪ ♪ If in my heart I do not yield ♪ ♪ I’ll overcome someday ♪ (female narrator) Like the Civil War itself, slavery didn’t end with one decisive act. After the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863. It declared “all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states to be free.” Northern abolitionists welcomed the proclamation as a first step, while southern slave owners ignored it. Ending slavery would take a constitutional amendment, passed in January 1865, Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox in April 1865, the heroism of many enslaved families, and the Union Army itself to personally deliver the news to the most remote corners of the conquered Confederacy. (Rambo) The proclamation that Lincoln signed didn't find its way into Texas, which is where my father's family is from, and the Rambo family, until mid-June of 1865. (narrator) On June 19th, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and personally delivered the news. (as Granger) The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. (Rambo) There was a lot of celebration, but there was also a lot of sadness, a lot of concern, a lot of fear. Both enslaved Africans and those who held slaves didn't know what, really, to do now. As freed Americans, where were we to go? ( laughing ) (narrator) 150 years later, June 19th is a day of remembrance and celebration. (Rambo) I think my first Juneteenth celebration was when was I was six or seven because I remember roasted ears of corn. This was in Austin, Texas. And then coming here, I was surprised and really astounded to find out that Minneapolis, St. Paul have such a strong connection with Juneteenth. It stands to reason, with the number of people who probably migrated this far north who brought with them that tradition. (narrator) Every year in Texas, Minnesota, and around the country, Juneteenth is marked with music, food, and fellowship. (Mary Pargo) We are celebrating at Mississippi Regional Park. It's all ages here. I just see all kinds of people and colors. ( laughing ) (Lee Jordan) It's amazing to me that, especially among the African American culture, we have a little bit of a fear of embracing that history, you know, because there's some shame connected to slavery. I don't feel that way. I feel that that is such an important part of who I am as a person, the strength that I have within me comes from that struggle. (man 1) African American Independence Day. (man 2) Absolutely. (man 1) We're celebrating. (man 2) Yup. Our day of liberation. Our day of liberation. (Rambo) It's important to have opportunities for us to celebrate our oneness, our wholeness, our completeness, our dynamic selves. It's vital to African American people to have an opportunity, a date, that heralds the importance of who we are as a people and what we've been through as a people. (narrator) Juneteenth gives African American communities a chance to reflect on their ancestors' struggles and achievements and also to spotlight current issues. (Jordan) There is a lot going on in this world. There's a lot of anger, a lot of frustration, and a lot of uneasiness. The foundation you have can kind of give you a little bit more of a sure footing because you can look and say, "Well, wait, my family made it through through this hatred. Somehow they made it through. So take that strength and go up to the next level. (man 3) To Juneteenth! ( piano playing ) (Pargo) I love seeing the support that I get every year. It's always new people I'm meeting and, hopefully, collaborating with them so we can have Juneteenth and not let it die. It's so important. ( music ) (Rambo singing) ♪ If in my heart ♪ ♪ I do not yield ♪ ♪ I'll overcome someday ♪



During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863. It declared that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were to be freed. This excluded the five states known later as border states, which were the four "slave states" not in rebellion – Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and Missouri – and those counties of Virginia soon to form the state of West Virginia, and also the three zones under Union occupation: the state of Tennessee, lower Louisiana, and Southeast Virginia.[citation needed]

Ashton Villa, from whose front balcony General Order #3 was read on June 19, 1865
Ashton Villa, from whose front balcony General Order #3 was read on June 19, 1865

More isolated geographically, Texas was not a battleground, and thus the people held there as slaves were not affected by the Emancipation Proclamation unless they escaped.[8] Planters and other slaveholders had migrated into Texas from eastern states to escape the fighting, and many brought enslaved people with them, increasing by the thousands the enslaved population in the state at the end of the Civil War.[9] Although most enslaved people lived in rural areas, more than 1,000 resided in both Galveston and Houston by 1860, with several hundred in other large towns.[10] By 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas.[9]

The news of General Robert E. Lee's surrender on April 9 reached Texas later in the month.[11] The Army of the Trans-Mississippi did not surrender until June 2.[9] On June 18, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2,000 federal troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the federal government.[8] The following day, standing on the balcony of Galveston's Ashton Villa, Granger read aloud the contents of "General Order No. 3", announcing the total emancipation of those held as slaves:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.[12]

Emancipation Day celebration in Richmond, Virginia in 1905
Emancipation Day celebration in Richmond, Virginia in 1905
American and Juneteenth flags
American and Juneteenth flags

Formerly enslaved people in Galveston rejoiced in the streets after the announcement, although in the years afterward many struggled to work through the changes against resistance of whites. The following year, freedmen organized the first of what became the annual celebration of Juneteenth in Texas.[12] In some cities African-Americans were barred from using public parks because of state-sponsored segregation of facilities. Across parts of Texas, freed people pooled their funds to purchase land to hold their celebrations, such as Houston's Emancipation Park, Mexia's Booker T. Washington Park, and Emancipation Park in Austin.[9][12]

Although the date is sometimes referred to as the "traditional end of slavery in Texas" it was given legal status in a series of Texas Supreme Court decisions between 1868 and 1874.[13]

In the early 20th century, economic and political forces led to a decline in Juneteenth celebrations. From 1890 to 1908, Texas and all former Confederate states passed new constitutions or amendments that effectively disenfranchised black people, excluding them from the political process. White-dominated state legislatures passed Jim Crow laws imposing second-class status. The Great Depression forced many black people off farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, African Americans had difficulty taking the day off to celebrate. The Second Great Migration began during World War II, when many black people migrated to the West Coast where skilled jobs in the defense industry were opening up.[14] From 1940 through 1970, in the second wave of the Great Migration, more than 5 million black people left Texas, Louisiana and other parts of the South for the North and West Coast. As historian Isabel Wilkerson writes, "The people from Texas took Juneteenth Day to Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and other places they went."[15]

By the 1950s and 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement focused the attention of African-American youth on the struggle for racial equality and the future, but many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. Following the 1968 Poor People's Campaign to Washington, DC called by Rev. Ralph Abernathy, many attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas where the day was not previously celebrated.[citation needed]

Since the 1980s and 1990s, the holiday has been more widely celebrated among African-American communities. In 1994 a group of community leaders gathered at Christian Unity Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana to work for greater national celebration of Juneteenth.[16] Expatriates have celebrated it in cities abroad, such as Paris.[17] Some US military bases in other countries sponsor celebrations, in addition to those of private groups.[17][18]

Although the holiday is still mostly unknown outside African-American communities, it has gained mainstream awareness through depictions in entertainment media, such as episodes of TV series Atlanta (2016)[19] and Black-ish (2017),[20] the latter of which featured musical numbers about the holiday by Aloe Blacc, The Roots,[21] and Fonzworth Bentley.[22][23]

Official status

In 1980, Texas was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday under legislation introduced by freshman Democratic state representative Al Edwards.[24] Juneteenth is a "partial staffing" holiday in Texas; government offices do not close but agencies may operate with reduced staff, and employees may either celebrate this holiday or substitute it with one of four "optional holidays" recognized by Texas.[25]

Governor Tom Wolf signing legislation to officially recognize Juneteenth in Pennsylvania
Governor Tom Wolf signing legislation to officially recognize Juneteenth in Pennsylvania

By 2008, nearly half of US states observed the holiday as a ceremonial observance.[8] Forty-six of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or ceremonial holiday, a day of observance. The four states that do not recognize Juneteenth are Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.[26]

In 1996 the first legislation to recognize "Juneteenth Independence Day" was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.J. Res. 195, sponsored by Barbara-Rose Collins (D-MI). In 1997 Congress recognized the day through Senate Joint Resolution 11 and House Joint Resolution 56. In 2013 the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 175, acknowledging Lula Briggs Galloway (late president of the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage) who "successfully worked to bring national recognition to Juneteenth Independence Day", and the continued leadership of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.[27] In 2018 Apple added Juneteenth to its calendars in iOS under official US holidays.[28]

Organizations such as the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation are seeking a Congressional designation of Juneteenth as a national day of observance.[9]

See also


  1. ^ "Juneteenth: Our Other Independence Day". Smithsonian. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  2. ^ "Juneteenth Celebrated in Coachella". Black Voice News. June 22, 2011. Archived from the original on January 22, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ "Juneteenth". Merriam Webster Dictionary. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  4. ^ "All but four US states celebrate Juneteenth as a holiday". CNN. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  5. ^ Taylor, 2002. pp. 28–29.
  6. ^ "How to Celebrate". Retrieved June 19, 2014.[self-published source]
  7. ^ "Mascogos. Siempre listos para partir". El Universal (in Spanish). September 19, 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2017. Sin embargo, la fiesta de la comunidad es el 19 de junio – el Juneteenth Day en Estados Unidos – el día que los esclavos de Galveston, Texas, supieron que eran libres.
  8. ^ a b c Cruz, Gilbert (June 18, 2008). "A Brief History of Juneteenth". Time magazine. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. "What Is Juneteenth?". The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. PBS. Originally posted on The Root. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  10. ^ Barr (1996), p. 24.
  11. ^ The Texas Republican (Marshall), April 28, 1865, p. 2, contains a reference to the surrender
  12. ^ a b c "Juneteenth". Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Retrieved July 6, 2006.
  13. ^ Campbell, Randolph (1984). "The End of Slavery in Texas: A Research Note". Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 88 (1): 71–80.
  14. ^ Adams, Luther (November 29, 2010). Way Up North in Louisville: African American Migration in the Urban South, 1930–1970. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0807899434.
  15. ^ Wilkerson, Isabel (2010). The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. New York: Random House. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  16. ^ Chandler, D.L. (June 19, 2012). "Juneteenth: Celebrating The Early Moments Of Freedom Today". News One. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  17. ^ a b Moskin, Julie (June 18, 2004). "An Obscure Texas Celebration Makes Its Way Across the U.S." The New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  18. ^ "The World Celebrates Freedom". Retrieved June 19, 2006.
  19. ^ Ho, Rodney (October 25, 2016). "FX's 'Atlanta' recap ('Juneteenth'): season 1, episode 9". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  20. ^ Framke, Caroline (October 4, 2017). "Black-ish's musical episode about Juneteenth is a pointed lesson on American ignorance". Vox. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  21. ^ "I Am A Slave". YouTube. ABC News. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  22. ^ "We Built This". YouTube. ABC Television Network. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  23. ^ Butler, Berhonie (October). "'Blackish' gives a powerful history lesson – with nods to 'Hamilton' and 'Schoolhouse Rock'". Washington Post. Retrieved June 18, 2018. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  24. ^ Dingus, Anne (June 2001). "Once a Texas-only holiday marking the end of slavery, Juneteenth is now celebrated nationwide with high spirits and hot barbecue". Texas Monthly. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  25. ^ "State of Texas Holiday Schedule - Fiscal 2019". Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  26. ^ "All but four US states celebrate Juneteenth as a holiday". CNN. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  27. ^ "S.Res.175 – A resolution observing Juneteenth Independence Day, June 19, 1865, the day on which slavery finally came to an end in the United States". United States Congress. June 19, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  28. ^ Ciaccia, Chris (February 16, 2018). "Apple's iCal calendar mysteriously deletes Easter". Fox News.


  • Barr, Alwyn (1996). Black Texans: A History of African Americans in Texas, 1528–1995. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0806128788.
  • Taylor, Charles A. (2002). Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom. Open Hand Pub Llc. ISBN 978-0940880689.

External links

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