What is Juneteenth? Juneteenth is the “newest” national holiday recognized by the United States federal government, but it is actually considered the longest-running African American holiday!
Juneteenth (June 19th) officially became the eleventh nationally observed holiday on June 17, 2021, when President Biden signed it into law. Also known informally as Emancipation Day, Black Independence Day, and Jubilee Day, Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery and commemorates June 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, with a message of liberation to the final holdout of enslaved African Americans.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. However, slavery in many parts of the South remained unchanged. Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, in one of the last battles of the American Civil War at the courthouse in Appomattox, Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War (1861-1865). General Granger then arrived in Texas—the last Confederate holdout—in June, proclaiming:
“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.”
His message was met by celebrations of prayer, feasting, song, and dance from freed slaves!
Granger's announcement of freedom to Texas slaves came more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued. It is reported that more than 250,000 enslaved people in Texas were freed in the spring of 1865. That December, slavery in America was formally abolished with the adoption of the 13th amendment.
Juneteenth will be nationally observed this year on Monday, June 20, 2022, and will be celebrated with festivals, food, and other cultural activities. We invite our NCCS families to do the same!
To learn more about Juneteenth with your children, watch this read-aloud of Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper, read by Jasmyn Cornell, Miss Georgia 2021 semi-finalist.