Juneteenth is the commemoration of the end of slavery in America after the Civil War. Black Americans have celebrated Juneteenth since the late 1800s. Juneteenth is also recognized as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.” June 19, 1865, is the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, and declared that all enslaved people would be freed. This came two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln and two months after Robert E. Lee’s surrender. Juneteenth is considered the longest-running holiday celebrated by Black Americans. In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday. On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday after President Biden signed it into law.
Juneteenth.com states that, early on, celebrations included prayer and family gatherings to celebrate. Some formerly enslaved individuals and their families would make a pilgrimage to Galveston.
In the early 1870s, a group of Black ministers and businessmen purchased 10 acres of land in Houston, Texas. The land was named “Emancipation Park” and was dedicated to the annual Juneteenth celebration.
Since then, Juneteenth celebrations have changed. Today, celebrations range from backyard cookouts, where family and food are still a crucial component, to parties in public parks. Some cities, like Atlanta, hold bigger celebrations like parades and festivals. For some, celebrating Juneteenth means supporting Black-owned businesses.
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