What is Juneteenth?

By | June 17, 2019

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Juneteenth Parade, in the historic Five Points neighborhood, in Denver, CO, kicked off a daylong festival and celebration. Source: (gettyimages.com)

On June 19, one of the lesser known, yet more important holidays is observed in the United States. Juneteenth, as it is called, is, in fact, the oldest celebration to honor and remember the end of slavery in the U.S. This holiday commemorates the moment when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, with the announcement that the Civil War had ended and that the slaves had been emancipated. The twist was that this announcement came two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln gave his Emancipation Proclamation. So, why did it take so long for Texans to get the news? Let’s find out. 

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Francis Carpenter's painting of the first reading of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Source: (ushistory.org)

The Emancipation Proclamation

On January 1, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abe Lincoln issued a proclamation. He stated that all slaves held in possession of another human being in the rebellious Southern states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” Despite this, the Civil War raged on for more than two more years until Confederate General Lee surrendered in April of 1865.