What is Juneteenth?
On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, ending slavery in the United States. Over two years later, on June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas with word that the enslaved people in the US were free and the Civil War was over.
The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. - JUNETEENTH.com
In the years after Emancipation, stories about celebrations on that day in June spread, As the former slaves moved and around the country seeking lost family and opportunities, stories about celebrations on that day in Texas went with them. As time went on, those stories and celebrations evolved into Juneteenth.
The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. JUNETEENTH.com
The popularity of the holiday was little known outside of African-American communities for the first half of the 20th Century. The holiday's profile was raised during the 1960s Civil Rights fight. In 1980 Texas made Juneteenth a state holiday. Since then, marking June 19 as an American day of celebration and remembrance has spread across the country. Ther are also efforts to make it a national holiday. Forty-six states (and the District of Columbia) recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. South Dakota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Montana, and Hawaii are the states that don't. Wyoming has recognized Juneteenth since 2003.