What is Juneteenth Day? June 19 is the celebration of the date (June 19, 1865) that slaves officially became free. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger issued a general order in Galveston, TX proclaiming that slaves are henceforth free.
Who made Juneteenth a nationally-recognized commemoration/celebration? The June 19 order came down 2 ½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation (due to much resistance at the time and thereafter from slaveholders). Not surprisingly, the date was commemorated and celebrated because freed slaves made it so, and today African Americans continue the tradition.
Why does recognizing Juneteenth Day matter? Curiously, the commemoration of the end of slavery is not widely taught. However, Juneteenth Day offers the necessary opportunity to learn more about the legacy of slavery, when and how it ended; and to celebrate the possibility for honest pursuit of “liberty and justice for ALL.” Not only celebrated by Black people, but all people.
Where is Juneteenth recognized? Juneteenth Day has grown in recognition and commemoration over the years, although many people don’t know the specific history. It has is not recognized in every state in the nation. In 1979 in Houston, TX, Juneteenth Day became an official holiday, and since then 41 states have followed suit. There is a continued push for it to be a national holiday.
How is Juneteenth Day celebrated? The day is celebrated in many different ways: family reunions, music festivals, calls to support Black businesses or HBCUs, reenactment ceremonies of the signing of the reading of the Juneteenth proclamation, and others. Because the day symbolizes Black freedom in the continued struggle for equity, the date is celebrated in a variety of ways to forge connection, community, Black pride and legacy, and part of a comprehensive American story.
See the National Juneteenth Observance website for more information - http://www.nationaljuneteenth.com/Juneteenth_National.html