Juneteenth, a blend of the words June and nineteenth, honors the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. On June 19, 1865, Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform slaves they had been freed. It is a 155-year-old day of celebration that many non-Black people in the U.S. and around the world only started to hear of recently.
The Emancipation Proclamation had been issued by President Abraham Lincoln more than two years earlier, on Jan. 1, 1863. By June 19, 1865, Lincoln had been assassinated, and the 13th amendment that would abolish slavery in the United States would be ratified six months later.
Multiple companies have announced that they will either honor or recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday for their employees this year, as a sign of support for the Black community.
The National Archives on Thursday located what appears to be an original handwritten “Juneteenth” military order informing thousands of people held in bondage in Texas they were free.
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, ‘all slaves are free,’ ” the order reads.
“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.”
Check out Vox special segment about why all Americans should celebrate Juneteenth.