For many, this may be a ‘new’ holiday, because it was only declared a federal holiday last year, but in fact, it has been celebrated for more than 150 years!
Juneteenth is a combination of June + nineteenth and signifies the date in 1865 when Union troops, led by General Granger, made their way to Galveston, TX to announce that all enslaved Americans were free.
This date is notable because although the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on Jan 1, 1863, it took a while for freedom to make its way across the nation. In many states, enslavers were aware of the Emancipation Proclamation and still maintained slavery. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that the Emancipation Proclamation was actually enforced with the Union Army.
It’s also important to remember that even after Juneteenth, it would still take nearly 6 more months before the adoption of the 13th Amendment to end slavery — and years before passing the 14th and 15th Amendments.
So, why do we celebrate Juneteenth? Juneteenth is a time to revisit our nation’s history and reflect on the meaning and manifestation of freedom.
Learn more about Juneteenth from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture: https://nmaahc.si.edu/juneteenth