Juneteenth: Celebrating Emancipation Day

Each June 19 is referred to as Juneteenth or Emancipation Day. It is a special holiday that began in the African-American community in Texas but has since grown globally. 

During the American Civil War, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that for all intents and purposes ended slavery. Unfortunately, in the 19th century just announcing a proclamation didn’t mean that it was acted upon in every state.

There was no form of mass communication like there is today, and President Lincoln made the proclamation during the war. Not everyone knew of the proclamation and not everyone acted on it. There were people who did their best to keep slavery alive though President Lincoln had, in fact, ended it. There were more than 3 million slaves in the Confederate South and people wanted to keep their slaves.

Freeing the slaves would be a long journey, but for civil rights history, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, that he issued on January 1, 1863, is the pivotal moment when slavery became illegal under federal law.

Khan Academy did a lesson the Emancipation Proclamation that you may watch in the video player below.

Because President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and there was a war going on, not all of the south even knew that slavery had ended.

Texas was one of those states and slaves in Texas would not even know about the Emancipation Proclamation until June 19, 1865.

Keep in mind that during this time in history, some states legalized slavery while others were considered free. There was a long, bloody, and grueling battle underway and slavery simply didn’t end all at once, or with the stroke of President Lincoln’s pen.

When the Union soldiers made it to Galveston, Texas to announce that Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and that slavery had been abolished, it was June 19, 1865, and celebration broke out. The Union soldiers made great headway in the war and took control of the state, thereby freeing Texas’ slaves.

Because those in Texas celebrated their freedom and emancipation on June 19, 1865, the official start of Juneteenth was born and every June 19, there was a huge celebration.

The first Juneteenth was held in Texas on June 19, 1866.

Today, Juneteenth celebrations are held across the world and it is a very important holiday in many African-American and black communities worldwide.

You may hear a lecture about Juneteenth below.

There are lots of ways to celebrate Juneteenth and many states have declared it a state holiday.


Check in your state for local Juneteenth celebrations and find ways to celebrate the holiday in your own way.

The History Channel released a great graphic for those just learning about Juneteenth. You may see that below.


Are you celebrating Juneteenth today?

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