The United States has a dark history of slavery. Sadly, this is a topic that is seldom discussed. Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, is included in this. For nearly 150 years, the national government has been reluctant to proclaim this day a public holiday. President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth Bill on June 18, 2021, designating June 19 as a federal holiday.

Facts About Juneteenth

  • The name Juneteenth comes from the combination of the words June and nineteenth. It is also known as “Juneteenth Independence Day”, “Freedom Day”, or “Emancipation Day”.
  • On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to abolish slavery. More than two years passed before this news reached the slaves who lived in Texas. On June 19, 1865, Union Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and informed the slaves that they were free.
  • In 1980, the state of Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday. However, since 1866, Juneteenth has been celebrated informally by many.
  • People usually celebrate Juneteenth with parades, music, picnics, church services, and other activities.
  • The celebration of Juneteenth transcends borders. Juneteenth is celebrated at El Nacimiento in Coahuila, Mexico by the Mascogos population. This population are descendants of Africans from Texas and the indigenous group called Seminoles who fled to Mexico in the early 1800s. In Mexico, they are known as the Black Mascogo tribe and they celebrate Juneteenth every year.

Reading Resources

Educational Resources

We encourage you to educate yourself and the young people in your life about the history of this holiday. Please find a list of resources below:

  • Teaching Juneteenth: This learning plan on the history of Juneteenth acknowledges hard history while also empowering students to be advocates for change – written by Coshandra Dillard for Learning for Justice.
  • Focus on Equity for Juneteenth and Beyond: These resources can help unpack the complex history of this observance that originated in Texas—including the need for intervention from the federal government and efforts toward obscuring what actually took place.t – courtesy of Learning for Justice.
  • What we can do now, reflections on Juneteenth: This newsletter features many great resources that you can use to inform yourself and to spark conversation with kids of all ages – courtesy of EmbraceRace.
  • Black Emancipation and the Legacy of Juneteenth: Making Juneteenth official alone doesn’t do that. Without true and transformative action to protect the liberation of all people, celebrating can easily become a performative act of unity. What we desperately need is solidarity and action behind the observation. The date recognizes not the liberation of Black people, but the need to protect their right to freedom. We must act accordingly instead of waiting for someone else to do that work. – written by Nicole Cardoza for Anti-Racism Daily