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What is Juneteenth—and What Does It Celebrate?

Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of enslaved people in the United States at the end of the Civil War. A day remembering the end of slavery in Texas has spread across the whole U.S., with a larger meaning.

Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863.

The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

To commemorate the end of slavery in the United States, President Joe Biden signed legislation on Thursday, June 17, 2021 making Juneteenth a federal holiday to celebrate.


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