Juneteenth parade in Denver heading north from downtown toward the corner of York and ??? circ 1983
Juneteenth parade in Denver heading north from downtown toward the corner of York and ??? circ 1983

Juneteenth Celebration

A day for celebrating history and economic empowerment.

Juneteenth is a celebration that marks the arrival of troops entering Galveston, Texas, in 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862.

President Abraham Lincoln


Juneteenth honors the end of slavery and is one of the longest-running African American holidays. It officially became a federal holiday on June,17,2021, signed by President Joe Biden.

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, declared the freedom of enslaved people in Confederate states not under Union control. It did not abolish slavery throughout the United States. The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified on December 6, 1865, abolished slavery nationwide.



Because the Proclamation in 1863 applied only to places under Confederate control and because the state did not experience significant battles or a strong Union presence for most of the Civil War, slavery continued in Texas. Some slaveholders even moved to Texas to escape the reach of the Union Army and maintain slavery. The enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas was delayed until June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger announced General Order No. 3 in Galveston.

Juneteenth Banner

General Order No. 3, issued by General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, announced the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas. This event has become Juneteenth, and the reading of Order No. 3 is part of the tradition in Galveston, Texas, as reported by History Channel.com.

Order No. 3, which in part read, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

Juneteenth Celebration

Even though General Granger came to Galveston in the spring of 1865, that June was the real significant day for freedom, for the 250,000 enslaved people there, because the document was publicly read. One reason for the slow roll of information about the freedom of slaves was because slave owners would not tell the slaves until after harvest season so they would still have free labor from their plantations.

Juneteenth celebration sign college dining room.

A Bureau of Freedmen was established out of the war department during the war and a year after to help newly freed slaves adjust to their new lives as free people. In 1865 the bureau organized the first of what we would now call Juneteenth celebrations; they called it “Jubilee Day” on June 19, 1865.

In 1975 Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday, followed by several states over the years. As black people migrated from Texas to other parts of the country so did the tradition of Juneteenth.

Celebrations of Juneteenth look different in many areas, but usually, commemorations feature music, barbecues, prayer services and other activities.

Juneteenth is a federal holiday now which means that banks, credit unions, and other federal services will be closed, and all other nonessential federal government offices will be closed too. Mail won’t be delivered and since most schools are out for the summer school will be closed. Private schools and universities may have their own schedule. Local businesses can be open depending on whether they are closed for celebrations, reported USA Today.

Candace Reese, a Texan who considers Galveston her home, and her grandfather Rev. James B. Thomas, were instrumental in making Juneteenth a holiday in the 1970s, explains, in an interview with NPR, “Juneteenth is about the economic empowerment for those who are the descendants of those who were enslaved because there’s so much ground still that each generation has to make up.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All TheRoadrunner Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *