I have to admit that I unfortunately didn’t know much about this holiday. As we marked its first official occurrence as a federal holiday this past Monday, I did some reading and research to educate myself and I thought learning more about the day and the new holiday may be of interest to you as well.
What does the day represent?
Juneteenth is short for June 19th. It is a celebration of June 19, 1865 which was the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. This arrival came two and a half years after the signing of Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln.
This presidential directive didn’t instantly free all enslaved people as it only applied to places under Confederate control and not to slave-holding border states or rebel areas already under Union control. That changed on June 19, 1865 when U.S. General Gordon Granger issued General Orders No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” From thereon, the day was a celebration of the end of slavery in America and has been commemorated by many Americans for centuries.
When did it become a federal holiday?
President Joe Biden called for it to be a permanent Federal Holiday in 2021, with the first such occurrence being on June 20, 2022 (as June 19, 2022 was a Sunday). It was the first addition of a federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was added in 1983.
What about the states?
Only 24 states, along with DC, have adopted Juneteenth as a holiday
Does it go by any other names?
The day is also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day or Emancipation Day
Where can I learn more?
I found this article from the New York Times to be of interest and here is the official White House Proclamation. A google search of the holiday will also lead you to many other insightful and helpful writings on the holiday
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