with Chris Cruise

It’s Juneteenth!

What it is and why we celebrate it

Juneteenth is a federal holiday marking the effective end to slavery in the United States.

It’s considered the longest-running African American holiday but wasn’t a federal holiday until 2021, when President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, establishing that all enslaved people in Confederate states in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

However, the Proclamation only applied to Confederate states. In Texas, slavery continued until 1865. That’s when federal troops arrived in Galveston to take control of the state and ensure that enslaved people were freed. More than 250,000 African Americans were set free, and it became known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day. Then in December 1865, slavery in America was formally abolished with the 13th Amendment.

Juneteenth is now considered our nation’s second Independence Day!

Many Americans have made it a tradition to read the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment today. Others celebrate with family cookouts, faith services, visits to cultural sites, and parades.

However you choose to mark the occasion, Happy Juneteenth!


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