Juneteenth is an American holiday celebrating African American heritage and is the oldest known celebration that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

The date for this holiday originated on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas, with the news that the American Civil War had ended and all enslaved people were free. It had been over two and a half years since President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had become official on January 1, 1863. 

“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 personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly 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.” —General Orders, Number 3, opens a new window; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865

The tradition of celebrating Juneteenth as an African American emancipation day spread from Texas to neighboring states, and its popularity has waxed and waned over the last century. 

On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official Texas holiday, and on June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris signed a bill into law which established Juneteenth as an official federal holiday. June 19 is now known as Juneteenth National Independence Day. The last federal holiday established was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

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Black History Nonfiction Picture Books

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These powerful picture books embrace the past and the present of Black history.

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A Child's Journey Through Black American History

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It's easier for children to get perspective and understand historical moments if they see it through the eyes of children who lived through those times. These books are great conversation starters.

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Juneteenth For Kids and Teens

List created by ArapahoeSusan

Juneteenth, the oldest holiday commemorating the freedom of the enslaved African Americans in the United States, is our newest federal holiday.

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