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For other uses, see Juneteenth (disambiguation).
Juneteenth festival in Milwaukee, 2019
Juneteenth National Independence Day
Emancipation Day (TX)
Black Independence Day
Observed by United States
Significance Emancipation of slaves in states in rebellion against the Union
Observances African American history, culture and progress
Date June 19[a] Frequency Annually First time
June 19, 1866 (celebration)
June 19, 2021 (federal holiday)[b]
Related to Emancipation DayJuneteenth[c] (officially Juneteenth National Independence Day, and also known as, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day) is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It is also often observed for celebrating African-American culture. Originating in Galveston, Texas, it has been celebrated annually on June 19 in various parts of the United States since 1865. The day was recognized as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. Juneteenth's commemoration is on the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865, announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army general Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas, which was the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery.
President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863, had freed the enslaved people in Texas and all the other Southern secessionist states of the Confederacy except for parts of states not in rebellion. Enforcement of the Proclamation generally relied upon the advance of Union troops. Texas, as the most remote state of the former Confederacy, had seen an expansion of slavery and had a low presence of Union troops as the American Civil War ended; thus, enforcement there had been slow and inconsistent prior to Granger's announcement. Although the Emancipation Proclamation declared an end to slavery in the Confederate States, it did not end slavery in states that remained in the Union. For a short while after the fall of the Confederacy, slavery remained legal in two of the Union border states – Delaware and Kentucky.[d] Those enslaved people were freed with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished chattel slavery nationwide on December 6, 1865. The last enslaved people present in the continental United States were freed when the enslaved people held by the Choctaw (in the Indian Territories), who had sided with the Confederacy, were released in 1866.
Celebrations date to 1866, at first involving church-centered community gatherings in Texas. They spread across the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s, often centering on a food festival. Participants in the Great Migration out of the South carried their celebrations to other parts of the country. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, these celebrations were eclipsed by the nonviolent determination to achieve civil rights, but grew in popularity again in the 1970s with a focus on African American freedom and African-American arts. Beginning with Texas by proclamation in 1938, and by legislation in 1979, each U.S. state and the District of Columbia have formally recognized the holiday in some way. With its adoption in certain parts of Mexico, the holiday became an international holiday. Juneteenth is celebrated by the Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles who escaped from slavery in 1852 and settled in Coahuila, Mexico.
Celebratory traditions often include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing", and the reading of works by noted African-American writers, such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou. Some Juneteenth celebrations also include rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, and Miss Juneteenth contests. When Juneteenth became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, it was the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted in 1983.
1 Celebrations and traditions
2 History 2.1 Early history
2.1.1 The Civil War and celebrations of emancipation
2.1.2 End of slavery in Texas
2.1.3 Early Juneteenth celebrations
2.1.4 Decline during Jim Crow
2.2 Revival 2.2.1 1960s–1980s
2.2.2 Prayer breakfast and commemorative celebrations
2.2.3 Official statewide recognitions
2.2.4 Juneteenth in pop culture and mass media
2.2.5 2020 Trump campaign scheduling controversy
2.2.6 Becoming a federal holiday
3 Legal observance 3.1 State and local
What Is Juneteenth?
On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Texas were told they were free. A century and a half later, people across the U.S. continue to celebrate the day, which is now a federal holiday.
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Juneteenth, official name of federal holiday Juneteenth National Independence Day, also called Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, and Juneteenth Independence Day, holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, observed annually on June 19. Juneteenth is celebrated on Sunday, June 19, 2022. In 1863, during the American Civil War, Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. More than two years would pass, however, before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived
United States holiday
Alternate titles: Black Independence Day, Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, Juneteenth National Independence Day
By The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica • Last Updated: Apr 19, 2022 • Edit History
Juneteenth parade See all media
Related Topics: United States African Americans June slavery in the United States emancipation
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How did the American civil rights movement affect Juneteenth celebrations?Juneteenth, official name of federal holiday Juneteenth National Independence Day, also called Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, and Juneteenth Independence Day, holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, observed annually on June 19. Juneteenth is celebrated on Sunday, June 19, 2022.
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Discover the history of Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
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In 1863, during the American Civil War, Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. More than two years would pass, however, before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance.
Emancipation Proclamation, 1863.
African Americans celebrating the anniversary of the end of slavery in Washington, D.C., 1866.
© North Wind Picture Archives
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What Is the History of Juneteenth?
On June 19, 1865, enslaved Texans first learned of the Emancipation Proclamation—over two years after it was issued. Why did news of it...
The following year, on June 19, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas. The original observances included prayer meetings and the singing of spirituals, and celebrants wore new clothes as a way of representing their newfound freedom. Within a few years, African Americans in other states were celebrating the day as well, making it an annual tradition. Celebrations have continued across the United States into the 21st century and typically include prayer and religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and picnics, and festivals with music, food, and dancing.
Discover the history of Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States
Learn more about Juneteenth, the holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It is observed every year on June 19.
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Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and a number of other states subsequently followed suit. In 2021 Juneteenth was made a federal holiday. The day is also celebrated outside the United States, being used by organizations in a number of countries to recognize the end of slavery and to honour the culture and achievements of African Americans.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen.
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