Juneteenth History and Facts

Juneteenth Flag


By Avery Caldwell

What does Juneteenth celebrate?

Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the freedom of the slaves in the United States. The name Juneteenth is a combination of the words June and nineteenth. The day is also called Emancipation Day and Freedom Day.

When is Juneteenth celebrated?

June 19th

Who celebrates this day?

The day is celebrated in the United States mostly by African-Americans. It is most celebrated in the state of Texas where it has been an official state holiday since 1980. Many other states recognize the day as either an official holiday or observance.

What do people do to celebrate?

There are a number of different ways that people celebrate the day including parades, marches, and barbecues. Many people get together for ceremonies that include public service awards, prayer, and the raising of the Juneteenth Flag.

Government and educational facilities will often have programs or information regarding the history of the holiday and the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s also a time for African-Americans to celebrate their heritage.

History of Juneteenth

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862. It went into effect on January 1, 1863. However, slaves were not set free in the Confederacy until Union army was able to come in and take over. On June 18, 1865 the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas. The next day, June 19th, General Gordon Granger announced that the slaves in Texas were free by order of the president of the United States.

The former slaves in Galveston celebrated the day that they were set free. The first Juneteenth celebration took place the very next year.

The annual celebration began to spread throughout Texas and surrounding states. However, it became less popular in the early 1900's. It became popular once again in the 1950's and 1960's. In 1980 it became an official state holiday in Texas. There is currently a movement to get the day recognized on a national level.

Fun Facts About Juneteenth

  • It is the oldest known holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the US.
  • Juneteenth is the title of a book by author Ralph Ellison. Other books by Carolyn Meyer and Ann Rinaldi also center around the day.
  • Some cities and groups have Miss Junteenth contests.
  • Strawberry soda pop was once a popular drink associated with celebrating the day.
  • There is a Juneteenth Flag of Freedom. It is half red and half blue with a star in the middle. Each year a Juneteenth Flag raising ceremony is held in Galveston.


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The New York Times:

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USA Today:

12 Things You Might Not Know About Juneteenth

Mental Floss:


Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture:

California African American Museum:

Buffalo Soldiers Museum:

Museum of African Diaspora:

Museum of African American History:

National Center for Civil and Human Rights:

New Orleans African American Museum:

Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture:

Troy University's Rosa Parks Museum:

Old Slave Mart Museum:

National Civil Rights Museum:

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park:


Juneteenth Week of Celebrations:

Juneteenth: 10 virtual, In-person Events Happening Across the Houston Area: