Celebrating the Joy of Juneteenth

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This weekend, communities across the United States will celebrate Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, commemorating the end of U.S. slavery. In 2021, Congress officially made Juneteenth a federal holiday, and many schools and businesses will observe it this year on Wednesday, June 19. Although Juneteenth is new to many Americans, it has been celebrated since its origin in 1865, making it the oldest commemoration of slavery ending in the U.S. 

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is not just a day off—nor is it a solemn occasion. It is an opportunity to celebrate an important milestone in U.S. history. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform Texas citizens that the Civil War was over and that all enslaved people were now free.

President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had officially freed the slaves two and half years earlier, but because of the war, there were no government soldiers available to enforce the new law established in this executive order.

How to Celebrate Juneteenth

  1. Learn about African American history. Visit a museum, read a book, or watch a movie.

  2. Attend a local celebration. Check your local media or search online to see what celebrations are happening in your area and open to the public. Often, local celebrations will feature Black-owned businesses, and supporting these businesses is another great way to celebrate!

  3. Recognize Juneteenth in your workplace or community. Acknowledging the importance of African American history demonstrates support for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and promotes issues of social justice. Juneteenth.com offers a variety of ideas to try.