The History of Juneteenth


On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and his troops rode into Galveston, Texas and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery in America. 

Stopping at different places around town to make the announcement, Major General Granger read General Order Number 3, which among other things, includes the following: “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property.”

Of course, Black people would spend the next one hundred years fighting for the right to vote, and even longer for the right to marry a white person. 

The Emancipation Proclamation was announced on January 1, 1863, in the middle of the Civil War. But news travels slowly when the country is at war and the mail is still transported by horse or train. Some enslavers knew about the Emancipation Proclamation but chose to withhold that information to get another harvest of work from the people they had enslaved. 

So in 1865, when the last town learned about the end of slavery, the town erupted in celebration. Beginning the following year in 1866, the people of Galveston Texas held an annual celebration of their freedom. In 1872, four former enslaved people gathered together $800 to purchase a 10-acre park, which they named Emancipation Park, to have a place to celebrate each year. 


Since Texas became the first to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday in 1980, many states acknowledged it in some form. It officially became a federally recognized holiday on June 17, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. 

In 2022, the state of Georgia announced Juneteenth is a paid holiday for state employees, a bill which passed with bipartisan support.