The 19th of June is celebrated as “Juneteenth” to commemorate the day that Union forces landed in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, to report that the Civil War had ended and that slavery had been abolished. That was two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which “freed” all slaves held in states that had joined the Confederacy, and it was two months after Lincoln was assassinated.
The delayed news of emancipation reached Texas due to a combination of factors, including the state’s isolation, resistance from slaveholders, and the absence of Union troops. However, upon hearing General Granger’s announcement, Black-Americans in Texas jubilantly celebrated their newfound freedom. This day marked the birth of the day, blending the words “June” and “nineteenth” into a name that signifies liberation and hope.
The Juneteenth holiday is a time for Black Texans to engage in self-reflection, celebrate their heritage, and come together as a community. It is a time to celebrate their independence while also remembering the fortitude of their ancestors and honoring the sacrifices that were made. On Juneteenth, Black-Americans in Texas have the chance to reconnect with their culture and history, forge stronger ties to their communities, and share with younger generations their personal accounts of overcoming adversity.
The celebration of the occasion is marked by a variety of commemorative events, including parades, festivals, picnics, and get-togethers with one’s relatives. Prayer services, speeches, readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, educational events, musical performances, and other forms of entertainment were common to early Juneteenth celebrations.
Red foods have been a consistent historical tradition for Juneteenth. Options like watermelon, red velvet cake, barbecue, red punches, and red soda with stories passed down that the red represented the bloodshed of the enslaved.
Juneteenth has become widely celebrated and commemorated, even recognized as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021. There has been a rise in the number of Juneteenth events held in several places. Here’s a list of cities where you can find Juneteenth celebrations, nationwide:
Atlanta, Georgia hosts a wide variety of events, from musical shows to cultural exhibits to educational workshops on Black-American history. While many places offer weekend-long events, you can still catch events on actual Juneteenth this year.
The nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., celebrates Juneteenth with a variety of events that highlight the holiday’s historical significance, including marches, live music, art exhibitions, and panel discussions. Some events in the city are listed here and here.
Street fairs, concerts, art installations, and film screenings in New York City will celebrate the history, culture, and perseverance of Black-Americans. Check out what’s happening in a borough near you!
Oakland, California, on the West Coast, hosts a lively Juneteenth procession, local vendor markets, dance performances, and other events suitable for the whole family.