Juneteenth National Independence Day: America honors ‘Freedom Day’

Juneteenth march

A Juneteenth celebration, 2021. Photo courtesy of Rawpixel, original public domain image from Flickr

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19: Gospel concerts, street fairs, ceremonies, and prayer services take place across the nation today, in celebration of the oldest known commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States: Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day.

June doesn’t mark the Emancipation Proclamation itself; instead, this holiday recalls the date, more than two years later, when slaves in Texas were finally freed and former Confederates were forced to recognize the Proclamation.

Did you know? Juneteenth officially became recognized as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.


Food table at Juneteenth celebration

Food at a Juneteenth reception. Photo by Lisa Nottingham, courtesy of Flickr

With celebrity chef Carla Hall, CNN dives into why red food and drinks have become strong symbols on Juneteenth.

Are banks, the USPS, and places of business open on Juneteenth? USA Today has the details.

How has the meaning of Juneteenth changed in the last three years, since it became a federal holiday? AARP examines the story.


Though slaves had been freed more than two years earlier, under President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in the deep South had felt minimum impact.With the surrender of General Lee in April 1865, Northern forces became strong enough to overcome resistance in the South.

On June 18, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops reached Galveston, Texas, to enforce emancipation. And on June 19, Granger read aloud the contents of “General Order No.3.” The Order read, in part:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with the Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”

In reaction to the news, men and women who had been enslaved danced in the streets. Some immediately left their former masters in search of freedom or to find family members. The next year, freedmen organized the first annual “Juneteenth” celebrations in Texas, using public parks, church grounds and newly purchased land for the jubilant parties.

Major institutions such as the Smithsonian and Henry Ford Museum have begun sponsoring Juneteenth activities, as have cities across the United States. In many areas, portions of General Order Number 3 are read, and celebrations often include both singing and public readings of the writings of noted African-American writers.


Find recipes fit for the day at Parade, the Washington Post, the New York Times and Betty Crocker.

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