Juneteenth National Independence Day has just been made a national holiday. It is celebrated on June 19th to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States. The holiday dates back to June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved people were free. This was two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery. Juneteenth marks the date when the Executive Order was finally put into effect.
Juneteenth has been celebrated by African Americans since 1866. In early Juneteenth celebrations, formerly enslaved men and women and their descendants made an annual pilgrimage to Galveston to mark the occasion. Juneteenth celebrations have traditionally included African American foods, prayer, and family gatherings.