What Is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth 2016

Juneteenth is celebrated as the date when enslavement ended in America. Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation did not come until General Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas and issued General Order #3 on the “19th of June,” almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

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General Order #3 Read by General Gordon Granger “19th of June”, 1865 Galveston, TX states: “The people 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 personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, become that between employer and hired labor. The freed are advised to at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Why is Juneteenth Celebrated?

It symbolizes the end of slavery. Juneteenth has come to symbolize for many African-Americans what the fourth of July symbolizes for all Americans — Freedom. It serves as a reminder to Americans of the triumph of the human spirit over the cruelty of slavery. It honors our African-American ancestors who survived the inhumane institution of bondage, as well as demonstrates pride in the marvelous legacy of resistance and perseverance they left us. It gives us an opportunity to recognize the challenges African Americans have overcome and to realize the potential we all have to become more.