5 Interesting Facts about Juneteenth

Ana Campos, Principal Librarian, Central Library Services,
Band performing in Texas for Emancipation Day, 1900
Band performing in Texas for Emancipation Day, 1900. The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries

The United States has a dark history of slavery. Unfortunately, this is something that is not talked about much. This includes the history of Juneteenth which is celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. It has taken more than 150 years for the national government to declare this day a national holiday. On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth was declared a national holiday in the United States. In 2022, the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles declared Juneteenth a holiday for City workers.

Here are 5 interesting facts about Juneteenth:

  1. The name Juneteenth comes from the combination of the words June and nineteenth. It is also known as “Juneteenth Independence Day”, “Freedom Day”, or “Emancipation Day”.
  2. On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to abolish slavery. More than two years passed before this news reached the slaves who lived in Texas. On June 19, 1865, Union Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and informed the slaves that they were free.
  3. In 1980, the state of Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday. However, since 1866, Juneteenth has been celebrated informally by many.
  4. People usually celebrate Juneteenth with parades, music, picnics, church services, and other activities.
  5. The celebration of Juneteenth transcends borders. Juneteenth is celebrated at El Nacimiento in Coahuila, Mexico by the Mascogos population. This population are descendants of Africans from Texas and the indigenous group called Seminoles who fled to Mexico in the early 1800s. In Mexico, they are known as the Black Mascogo tribe and they celebrate Juneteenth every year.

Further Reading

Book cover for On Juneteenth
On Juneteenth
Gordon-Reed, Annette

Book cover for Juneteenth: A Day to Celebrate Freedom From Slavery
Juneteenth: A Day to Celebrate Freedom From Slavery
Leeper, Angela

Book cover for The Story Behind Juneteenth
The Story Behind Juneteenth
Reader, Jack

Book cover for Juneteenth
Winn, Kevin P.

Book cover for Opal Lee and What It Means To Be Free
Opal Lee and What It Means To Be Free
Duncan, Alice Faye