Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates the liberation of all remaining enslaved people in the Confederacy.
On June 19, 1865 - two and a half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Major General Gordon Granger led a regiment of Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas to read and enforce General Order Number 3, which begins with these words:
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free."
The Order was met with mixed reactions. Texans who had long rebelled against abolishing slavery were surprised and upset. Newly freed slaves rejoiced at the news and referred to this celebratory day as "Juneteenth", which has since become the nation's oldest commemoration of the end of slavery.
In 1980, Texas became the first state to declare Juneteenth an official holiday.
Juneteenth has evolved through the years to become a national day of pride and respect for African American heritage, culture, and tradition. While it is still not an official national holiday, it is observed as a holiday in 47 states and support is strong and growing to make it happen nationwide..
Commemorate this day by learning more about African American History, Important and Notable People of Color throughout history, the Black Lives Matter movement, African and Black culture, food, and traditions.
Juneteenth readings from the NY Times June 19, 2020.
Genealogists who are tracing the lineage of descendants of slaves may find helpful information in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, an ongoing, multi-team international research project.
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