Juneteenth, June 19, is the oldest known celebration that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. Dating back to 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, TX, with the news that the American Civil War had ended, opens a new window and all enslaved people were free. It had been over two years since President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had become official on January 1, 1863.

The tradition of celebrating Juneteenth spread to neighboring states, but celebrating Juneteenth has waxed and waned over the last century, experiencing a decline in popularity during the Civil Rights Movements. On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official Texas holiday, and today, 45 U.S. states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth, opens a new window.

“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



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