On Thursday, June 18, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law bill establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. In 1980, Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, the U.S. Senate approved a bill will make Juneteenth a public holiday, 41 years after Texas.
What is Juneteenth?
On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all enslaved peoples. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865—two and a half years later—enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned they had been freed. There weren’t many union soldiers in the State of Texas during the Civil War to echo President Lincoln’s proclamation. It wasn’t until Union Major General Gordon Granger landed on Galveston Island in 1865 to enforce the executive order stating all enslaved people were granted their full liberty and personhood that enslaved Texans were made aware of their freedom. The day became known as Juneteenth by the freed slaves in Texas. It is also called Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day. Read more about the historical legacy of Juneteenth.
Additional articles and resources:
- Juneteenth, explained
- From Juneteenth to the Tulsa massacre: What isn’t taught in classrooms has a profound impact
- Juneteenth: Freedom At Last (video)
- What to Read, Watch, Listen to, and Learn from to Make the Most of Juneteenth
- The History Of Juneteenth (podcast)
- What is Juneteenth? (video)