We want to take a moment and celebrate Juneteenth! Although only recently signed as a federal holiday in June 2021, Juneteenth actually goes way back in history.
Here are a few interesting facts and ways to celebrate.
The History of Juneteenth
On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order known as the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a significant step to ending slavery in the United States, but it was only the first step.
The Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery only in the confederate states in rebellion. Plus, with the Civil War raging on, enforcing the law was next to impossible.
Two and a half years later, slavery was still prevalent in many parts of the country. Finally, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger traveled to Galveston, Texas to proclaim the war had ended and all slaves were free (SOPHE.org).
Once the 13th amendment was passed in December 1865, it was official. Slavery was not legal in any part of the United States.
This is why we celebrate Juneteenth. That day on June 19, when the war ended and the Union Soldiers traveled to Texas to announce the end of slavery was the most significant step toward freedom for all Americans.
Facts About Juneteenth
- The first celebrations of Juneteenth date all the way back to 1865
- Texas was the first to make Juneteenth an official state holiday on January 1, 1980
- Strawberry soda pop was once a popular drink associated with celebrating the day.
- Juneteenth became a federal holiday largely because of Opal Lee’s efforts, the “Grandma of Juneteenth.” The 94-year-old activist marched to Washington and in 2021, it became an official federal holiday.
Ways to Celebrate This Juneteenth
Rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball are just a few of the typical Juneteenth activities you may witness today. Here are a few other ideas:
- Read! There is so much history to learn
- Head to Picacho Peak, Arizona’s only Civil War site, and the western-most battle of the Civil War. The hike is extremely challenging, so be sure to get there early and bring plenty of water if do plan to trek.
- Plan gathering with your family or friends. You can exchange facts or quotes and discuss how historical events have impacted your life today.
There are many other ways to celebrate. You can find some more ideas at Juneteenth.com.
We hope you have a great Juneteenth and learn something new this year!