African American Emancipation Day, also called Juneteenth, is a federal holiday that honors the end of slavery in the United States. It is the oldest national celebration of the end of slavery in the country.
On June 19, 1865, Union Gen. Gordon Granger and more than 200,000 soldiers arrived in Texas to read the General Orders No. 3: "According to a proclamation from the United States Executive, all slaves are free." This happens two years after Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.
In 1865, Galveston, Texas, became the birthplace of Juneteenth. The two-year-old Emancipation Proclamation had gone unnoticed by the city's enslaved Black population.
Celebrations on Juneteenth have been going on for a long time and in several ways across the nation, including family gatherings and community celebrations.
Here’s how you can commemorate Juneteenth:
- Visit a Black history museum or support a Black-owned business.
- Read a book or watch a documentary about American slavery. Two recommendations are “Barracoon: The story of the Last Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston and “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave” by Frederick Douglass.
- To commemorate the blood shed by enslaved African Americans, some people celebrate by drinking red beverages in honor of their ancestors.