What is Juneteenth?

You may have heard of Juneteenth in recent years. If you have been paying attention to the news this week, you know that Juneteenth just became a federal holiday. Despite its recent popularity, Juneteenth has been celebrated since just after the Civil War. So, what is it? Read on.

When is it: Juneteenth takes place on June 19th every year. The day gets its name from combining the words June and 19th.

Origins: The day was first celebrated in Galveston, Texas in 1866, and commemorates the announcement the year before from Union Army General Gordon Granger, that the slaves in Texas were free. Over the years the date has been used to celebrate the emancipation of all slaves in the United States after the Civil War.

Names: While Juneteenth is the most popular name for June 19, the celebration has been called several names including Emancipation Day, Black Independence Day, and Jubilee Day.

Traditions: During the Jim Crow era, African Americans were often legally prevented from holding Juneteenth Celebrations in public places, so the celebrations were often held in Black churches. Celebrations often include a large meal, a reading of the emancipation proclamation, picnics, family reunions and cookouts. Strawberry soda has also become a Juneteenth tradition.

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