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Juneteenth : June 19th

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth originated in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to commemorate African Americans' legal freedom from slavery after the American Civil War.  Juneteenth is observed on June 19th. Historians note that Juneteenth was the result of Union general Gordan Granger's public reading on June 19, 1865 of General Order Number 3, which stated: "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."

There are several Black folk tales that describe the origin of Juneteenth, including:

  • Texas land owners not divulging the information to slaves so they would harvest crops
  • Word of Emancipation did not reach Galveston until June 19th as the messenger arrived from Washington via mule ride 
  • The first messenger from Washington was killed while in route to Galveston.

Today,  Juneteenth is regarded as a means to celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans, with a focus on education, family gatherings, festivals, cultural events, political speeches, and to remember the indelible scars caused by slavery that all Americans carry to this day.  

Check out this guide for information sources on the history of Juneteeth, and how it is currently celebrated. 

Juneteenth history and more

Recommended Titles


Shot on the Senate floor by a young Black man, a dying racist senator summons an elderly Black Baptist minister from Oklahoma to his side for a remarkable dialogue that reveals the deeply buried secrets of their shared past and the tragedy that reunites them.

Juneteenth Texas

Juneteenth Texas explores African-American folkways and traditions from both African-American and white perspectives. Included are descriptions and classifications of different aspects of African-American folk culture in Texas; explorations of songs and stories and specific performers such as Lightnin' Hopkins, Manse Lipscomb, and Bongo Joe; and a section giving resources for the further study of African Americans in Texas.  

Freedom's gifts : a Juneteenth story

Finding power in lessons from the pastJuneteenth -- the day Texan slaves found out they had been freed, two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation -- is June's favorite holiday. This year, though, her cousin Lillie will be there for the Juneteenth picnic. That could spoil everything.

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