Liskow would like to wish everyone a happy Juneteenth and, in commemoration of the holiday, to share the information and resources below:
This Saturday marks Juneteenth—also known as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, or Freedom Day—a holiday that commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States.
On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared, as to the Confederate states in rebellion against the Union, that “all persons held as slaves…shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Despite that declaration, slavery persisted in many parts of the country as enforcement was dependent on the presence (and advancement) of Union troops. In particular, slavery continued in Texas, which did not have a large presence of Union troops; in fact, many enslavers relocated to Texas following the Emancipation Proclamation because it was seen as a safe haven for slavery.
On June 19, 1865, Union Army Gen. Gordon. Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced General Order No. 3, which informed the people of Texas: “all slaves are free.” Then, in December of that year, slavery was formally abolished with the adoption of the 13th Amendment.
Beginning in 1866, Texans celebrated Juneteenth in a variety of ways, including parades, cookouts, prayer gatherings, and other community events. Some African-American communities celebrated by collecting money to buy property: In 1872, an African-American community in Houston pooled $1,000 to put down on ten acres of land for use in their Juneteenth celebration; that land is now known as Emancipation Park.
While Juneteenth celebrations were originally limited to Texas, they soon spread across the country as African-Americans migrated to new cities. Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday on January 1, 1980; other states have since followed suit, either by marking Juneteenth as a holiday or an observance. On June 11, 2021, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a law recognizing Juneteenth as a Louisiana state holiday. Then, on June 17, 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, which established Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
Juneteenth is celebrated across the country by people of various backgrounds. Juneteenth also presents an opportunity for reflection and conversation on the history and legacy of racism in this country, and on work that still needs to be done to address racial injustice and discrimination in the present day.
For more information on the history of Juneteenth, Juneteenth celebrations, and ways to celebrate this Saturday, some additional resources are linked below:
- “Juneteenth: Celebration of Resilience” (Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture’s site on Juneteenth, with information on the history of Juneteenth, virtual programs, readings lists, and resources for children of all ages)
- “Researching Juneteenth Celebrations at The New York Public Library” (provides more information on the history of Juneteenth celebrations in the United States)
- “Emancipation Park” (Houston Parks and Recreation Department site on the history of Emancipation Park)
- “This is How We Juneteenth” (New York Times article on present-day Juneteenth celebrations, with photographs of historical Juneteenth celebrations and discussion of the significance of Juneteenth today)
- “Juneteenth in New Orleans” (NewOrleans.com site on Juneteenth celebrations taking place in and around New Orleans)
- “Celebrate Juneteenth with these events in Galveston and Houston area” (ABC13 article on Juneteenth celebrations in the area)