What Is Juneteenth?

Here's what you need to know.

A graphic of a broken chain

In honor and in celebration of Juneteenth, we’re sharing 6 things you should know about how this holiday came to be, and why we as a nation should celebrate it.

1. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, marking the day slavery ended in Texas.

This is more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, which legally ended slavery in the United States.⁣

2. Union General Gordon Granger delivered the news in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, issuing General Order No. 3 and officially freeing America’s final slaves. ⁣

3. It is unknown why it took more than two years for slavery to end in Texas. Theories include that the messenger was murdered on their way to Texas and that the information was intentionally suppressed. ⁣

4. Known as “The Scatter,” former slaves left to find family members and other places to live after the announcement in Texas.⁣

5. Segregation laws meant there were no public places freed slaves were able to use to celebrate the first anniversary of the announcement. In the 1870s, former slaves pooled together $800 and purchased 10 acres of land, which they deemed “Emancipation Park.” It was the only public park and swimming pool in the Houston area that was open to black people until the 1950s.⁣

6. Juneteenth is not a federal holiday, but 43 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia recognize it as a ceremonial holiday. There are more than 200 cities nationwide that celebrate Juneteenth, or Black Independence Day, with festivals or other events.⁣

Jodi-Ann Burey (she/her) has a mission is to disrupt “business as usual” to achieve social change. She is a speaker, writer, and equity advocate. Her work is grounded in centering the experiences of historically underrepresented communities and the systemic intersectional approaches needed to address inequities. Jodi-Ann holds a Masters in Public Health from the University of Michigan. She prides herself on being a cool auntie, a twist-out queen, cancer survivor, adventurer and reluctant dog owner. Jodi-Ann is currently working on her first book and podcast called Black Cancer, which explores the stories about women of color and healthcare.