Juneteenth, official name of federal holiday Juneteenth National Independence Day, also called Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, and Juneteenth Independence Day, holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, observed annually on June 19. Juneteenth is celebrated on Sunday, June 19, 2022.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.
On “Freedom’s Eve,” or the eve of January 1, 1863, the first Watch Night services took place. On that night, enslaved and free African Americans gathered in churches and private homes all across the country awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. At the stroke of midnight, prayers were answered as all enslaved people in Confederate States were declared legally free. Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the south reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom in Confederate States. Only through the Thirteenth Amendment did emancipation end slavery throughout the United States.
(Emancipation Day celebration, June 19, 1900 held in “East Woods” on East 24th Street in Austin. Credit: Austin History Center)
Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It is also often observed for celebrating African-American culture. Originating in Galveston, Texas, it has been celebrated annually on June 19 in various parts of the United States since 1865.
Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day. Although it has long celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans.
The historical legacy of Juneteenth shows the value of never giving up hope in uncertain times. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a community space where this spirit of hope lives on. A place where historical events like Juneteenth are shared and new stories with equal urgency are told.
McGregor celebrates the holiday and making strides in our efforts of inclusion.