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.
- The Juneteenth Music Festival, opens a new window is held annually in the Historic Five Points Neighborhood, opens a new window.
- The Juneteenth Music Festival also honors Coloradans who #DREAMBIG, opens a new window. Each year individuals are selected who have set high standards for achievement in business, education, arts and service.
- Read more about the history of Juneteenth, opens a new window.
- Juneteenth: Our Other Independence Day, opens a new window
- PBS.org What is Juneteenth?, opens a new window
- Black History Month Resources
- Catalog Search
- When Kids Ask About Race
- Black history in picture books and A Child's Journey Through Black History
Juneteenth, the oldest holiday commemorating the freedom of the enslaved African Americans in the United States, is our newest federal holiday.