Juneteenth is an annual holiday celebrated on June 19th, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It has been around for over 150 years. It all began on June 19th, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War was over and that enslaved peoples were to be freed.
Even though the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued more than two years earlier, it had little effect at the time of signing as news of the order had not reached the enslaved population of Texas.
The first major Juneteenth celebration was held in Austin, Texas, in 1867. By 1872, the celebration had been added to a calendar of public events, and that year, Black leaders in Texas purchased 10 acres of land to celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth was informally celebrated up until 1980, when Texas became the first state to proclaim Emancipation Day as an official state holiday. Today, nearly all 50 states mark Juneteenth as either a date of observance or a state holiday.
Over the years, Juneteenth has been celebrated by Black Americans all over the country in many different ways. On many occasions, an assortment of red foods and drinks are prepared to symbolize perseverance. But celebrations can range from small family gatherings and backyard barbecues to Grand festivals and parades featuring exhibitions of African-American music, literature, dance, and more.
More can be done to further support Juneteenth, such as local and state governments, formally recognizing the history and culture of the day and companies and local businesses incorporating it into their calendars even before it becomes a national holiday.
Ultimately, Juneteenth is much more than a holiday. It is a day for Black Americans to celebrate freedom, culture, and heritage, and for everyone to recognize and commemorate this pivotal moment in American history.