Juneteenth is a blend of the words, June and nineteenth, celebrating the liberation of those who had been held as slaves in the United States.
The holiday itself originated in Texas on June 19th, 1865 after Union army general, Gordon Granger, announced federal orders in Galveston, Texas stating:
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. – General Order No. 3
This news came 2 and a half years after the Union’s Emancipation Proclamation had officially outlawed slavery in Texas and other states that were in rebellion against the US on September 22, 1862. (Yes, slaves in Texas had to WAIT over two years before they were actually freed).
As Juneteenth is now coming to the forefront due to recent events of social unrest, I wanted to share some historical facts around this day of Jubilee.
- Although Juneteenth is commonly thought of as celebrating the end of slavery in the United States, it was still legal and practiced in Union border states until December 6, 1865.
- The first official Juneteenth celebration came the year after the liberation of slaves in Galveston. However, it took more than a hundred years for Texas to consider it a state holiday. In 1980, Texas became the first state in the US to declare Juneteenth a state holiday.
- As of June 3, 2020 Juneteenth is not a federal holiday, but 47 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation recognizing it as a holiday or observance.
- Texas, Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania are the only states recognizing it as an official paid holiday for state employees.
- The city council in Portland, Ore., has recently announced making June 19 a paid holiday for city employees.
- The only three states yet to recognize Juneteenth as either a state or ceremonial holiday are Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
- Senators recently announced legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
- Juneteenth celebrations include: picnics, rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, blues festivals and Miss Juneteenth contests.
Break the cycle – Learn from the past, to understand the present, to change the future.
Happy Juneteenth everyone.
- Juneteenth and General Order No. 3
- Calls To Make Juneteenth A Federal Holiday Gain Momentum
- Gov. Ralph Northam proposes legislation to make Juneteenth a paid, state holiday
- Juneteenth: Fact Sheet