Celebrating Juneteenth

This June marks the first federally recognized Juneteenth celebration, after President Joe Biden signed legislation into law establishing June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day. 

The date, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, has been officially acknowledged since 1980 as a state holiday in Texas, where its observance originated to mark the day in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to inform the enslaved African Americans there of their freedom as a result of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation over two years prior.

Information about the history and heritage of Juneteenth can be found on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the Library of Congress websites.

In addition to the many local observances of the holiday, virtual events like the Smithsonian National Museum of Afircan American History and Culture’s celebration will offer opportunities to reflect on both the history and the future of freedom and equality in the United States.

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