Juneteenth history signifies the end of slavery

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger
arrived in Galveston, Texas to read a federal order abolishing the institution of slavery in the state: “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 moment was significant: Texas had been the last of the Confederate states where enslavement continued, despite President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in 1863 and despite the end of the Civil War on April 9, 1865.

Texas was the most remote state in the Confederacy, and it took Union forces until June to reach Texas to announce and enforce the federal order that ended slavery there.

The 13th Amendment, which added abolishment of slavery to the Constitution, passed Congress in January 1865, but wasn’t ratified and adopted until December 1865.

Since June 19, 1865, Americans have observed and celebrated Juneteenth as Emancipation Day, Day of Freedom.

In 1980, Texas began marking Juneteenth as official state holiday, the first state to do so. Now, nearly all states commemorate or observe Juneteenth to some degree.

Observing Juneteenth

Some traditional ways to celebrate Juneteenth today are rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball. A prayer service, speaker series, reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and dances were also among early Juneteenth celebrations.

States Where Juneteenth is Paid Holiday

While many states celebrate Juneteenth as holiday, only 8 states observe it as  paid holiday.

  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Celebrating Juneteenth in 2021

Order food from a Black-owned restaurant: Support Black restaurant owners in your community by ordering food on Juneteenth and beyond–here are eight ways to find Black-owned restaurants where you live. Yelp and Uber Eats help you find these restaurants on their apps.

Black Lives Matter: Support the Cause 

Educate yourself and reflect: While slavery ended in 1865, racism persists in many institutions. Use June 19 as a day to reflect on critical issues that perpetuate discrimination against Black people in US and throughout the world. Spend the day reading about Juneteenth’s history, including how Black families felt after being emancipated.

Watch the documentary 13th on Netflix, or engage with other movies, shows, books and podcasts.

Watch online Juneteenth events:
Tune in to the virtual Juneteenth music festival or online celebrations and find a listing of local events where you live, like this one.

Place a sign in your front yard: Raise awareness and show your support for Juneteenth by decorating a sign for your front yard or door. This is a great way to help educate younger kids in your neighborhood who may not know about the holiday.