Juneteenth, which is a mixture of June and nineteenth, celebrates the day the last American slaves were freed after the Civil War. It is the longest-running black holiday in America, which has also been called “Freedom Day” and “Emancipation Day” over the years. Though it has long been celebrated throughout the country, Congress and President Biden just established Juneteenth – or, as the legislation names it, National Independence Day – as a federal holiday in June of 2021.
The History of the Holiday
For a while, Texas became the last haven for slavery. Eventually, however, General Gordon Granger arrived. In 1865, Granger traveled to Galveston and delivered General Orders No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
As black Americans moved from Texas to other states, the holiday began to be celebrated across the country. Many African Americans would celebrate Juneteenth by making a yearly pilgrimage back to Galveston, where the proclamation was originally delivered by General Granger.
Juneteenth is a celebration of America finally addressing one of the darkest parts of her history. The abolition of slavery was a significant step toward righting a terrible wrong. Those celebrating the holiday are acknowledging that this was a point in history in which Americans decided to move closer towards living up to the ideals upon which the nation was founded. For this reason, Emancipation Day will continue to be commemorated by generations to come.