What Juneteenth Is and Why We Celebrate It
As we celebrate Juneteenth, one of the oldest national holidays celebrating the emancipation of slaves, we share and honor its history.
Today, as we celebrate Juneteenth, one of the oldest national holidays celebrating the emancipation of slaves, we share and honor its history. On June 19, 1865, slavery came to an end under an order issued in Texas by a Union general—but the announcement came more than two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. With nearly 4 million enslaved black men, women and children granted freedom, 250,000 black people remained enslaved in Texas, unaware of their freedom, with former enslavers hiding the news.
On June 19, federal troops arrived in Texas to ensure freedom of all enslaved, but celebration was not soon to come. Though General Granger arrived with the news that “all slaves are free,” it came with a caveat, as Granger continued, “The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” Former slave owners grasped at systems of societal oppression as a means to stunt the losses of their immoral trade, as Black Americans struggled for equal and deserved liberties not granted alongside their freedom. Slowly Juneteenth celebrations grew year to year, eventually seeing observation as an official Texas holiday to being celebrated nationwide as we are today, in honor and remembrance.
We ask you to join us in observing Juneteenth, in a year where we are demanding a rightful look at the country’s true history, as we assess what a racially just future means. The delay of justice has been an ever-present affliction for Black Americans, and it must not delay further. Keep standing up, keep making our voices heard, and keep working together towards a better tomorrow.