Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Now, it officially is a federally recognized holiday, observed every year on June 19th.
This date is significant because in Galveston, Texas in 1865, General Gordan Granger of the Union Army read the following:
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
Granger arrived in Texas about two months after Robert E. Lee surrendered to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended.
Dr. Sharnell Myles on the Importance of Juneteenth:
Dr. Sharnell Myles, Psy.D., LPC, CPCS, CCTP, is the Vice President of Embark at Atlanta North:
“Slavery is by far the most heinous, brutal, and demoralizing assault against individuals. Not only did slavery change a continent, but it also changed generations of people and stripped from their core a sense of their true culture and humanity. The history of Juneteenth encompasses decades of slavery, lynching, racial violence, and the notion that enslaved people were free. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, that Maj. Gen. Gordan Granger informed Texas that all enslaved people were free.
“The recent signing of Juneteenth as a federal holiday marks a historical, yet emotional, day. Many African Americans have stood firm in their fight to have Juneteenth recognized as a day of Independence, the oldest known commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S. As we celebrate Juneteenth as a step closer to Black Liberation, let us hold this day in remembrance of our ancestors who gave their lives in hopes of true freedom, a day where we can honor the lives, culture, and contributions of African Americans, a day where we stop and reflect on the work that is yet to be done and intentionally develop steps to build the future, and a day where we welcome our allies to continue standing side by side and taking responsibility to ensure equitable and sustainable change.
“Let us remain vigilant and steadfast of our goal to create and sustain an inclusive, empowering, and equitable culture that honors the history of African Americans. This weekend, I encourage each of you to learn more about Juneteenth and take part in a local Juneteenth celebration!
Take a moment to watch this video on why all Americans should honor Juneteenth.”
Learn About Juneteenth with Your Kids
- Explore this virtual exhibit from the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
- Try these reading lists from the New York Public Library, Boston University, and the Chicago Public Library, with reading suggestions for the entire family.
- Explore Spotify’s Black Music Month playlists.
- Search for celebrations in your area – many cities are hosting outdoor concerts, dance performances, virtual events, and more. You can also try websites like Eventbrite and Meetup to explore more options.