Learn about Juneteenth, a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, a city and state recognized holiday and a paid holiday for city employees.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is the nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19th, 1865, 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. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth is a recognized holiday in the City of St. Louis, and has been a paid holiday for the employees of the City since June 20, 2022.
On June 19, 1865, about two months after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Va.,Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.
The holiday received its name by combining June and 19. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”
The Significance of Juneteenth
Kelly E. Navies, Oral Historian for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, talks about the history and significance of Juneteenth. She also shares her family's tradition of celebrating of the holiday.
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Juneteenth: A Celebration of Resilience
The National Museum of African American History and Culture invites you to engage in your history and discover ways to celebrate this holiday.
The Emancipation Proclamation
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The proclamation declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free."
The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth
Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day. Although it has long celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to many Americans.
The History Of Juneteenth on Fresh Air
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed studies the early American republic and the legacy of slavery.