Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in 1865. Celebrated on June 19th and is recognized as a state holiday or state holiday observance in 42 of the United States.
Though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863, it had minimal immediate effect on most slaves’ day-to-day lives, particularly in the Confederate States of America.Texas, as a part of the Confederacy, was resistant to the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth commemorates June 18 and 19, 1865. June 18 is the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves.On June 19, 1865, while standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of “General Order No. 3”:
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.
TraditionsEmancipation Day celebration in Richmond, Virginia in 1905.Traditions include an enunciated public reading of the Emancipation Proclamation as a reminder that the slaves have been proclaimed free. The events are celebratory and festive. Many African-American families use this opportunity to retrace their ancestry to the ancestors who were held in bondage for centuries, exchange artifacts, debunk family myths, and stress responsibility and striving to be the best you can be. Celebrants often sing traditional songs as well such as Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; Lift Every Voice and Sing; and poetry from black authors like Maya Angelou. Juneteenth celebrations also include a wide range of festivities to celebrate American heritage, such as parades, rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, or park parties that include such things as African-American music and dancing or contests of physical strength and intellect. Some of the events may include black cowboys, historical reenactments, or Miss Juneteenth contests. Traditional American sports may also be played such as baseball, football, or basketball tournaments.