Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, celebrates the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. It is commemorated on the anniversary of the June 19, 1865 announcement by Union Army General Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas.

Why isn't the end of slavery celebrated on January 1st, when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued?

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863 by President Lincoln, freeing all slaves in the Confederate states. On June 19, 1865 General Gordon Granger and his troops traveled to Galveston, Texas. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

General Granger delivered General Order No. 3 which stated:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor."

This granted all enslaved people their freedom. 

What other names has Juneteenth been called?

Juneteenth has been celebrated under several names including: Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Cel-Liberation Day, Second Independence Day and Emancipation Day. 

How is Juneteenth celebrated?

Traditional celebrations of Juneteenth include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs, cookouts, rodeos, park parties, family reunions, historical reenactments, performances and readings by notable African-Americans. 

When did Juneteenth become a holiday?

On June, 17 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, officially making Juneteenth a federal holiday.