What is Juneteenth? Tracing The History And Significance Of June 19th

Juneteenth, now a federal holiday since 2021, marks belated end of slavery in Texas in 1865, highlighting challenges of emancipation during Civil War.

What is Juneteenth? Tracing The History And Significance Of June 19th

Juneteenth, observed annually on June 19th, commemorates the end of slavery in US.

Juneteenth is a celebration that honours the end of slavery in the United States. While President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, it took until June 19th, 1865, for news of freedom to reach enslaved people in Texas. Union troops arrived in Galveston to enforce the proclamation, marking a significant delay in spreading the news of emancipation during the Civil War.

This delay underscores the complexities of ending slavery in America. Juneteenth not only signifies the abolition of slavery but also serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality.

A Celebration Rooted in History

African American communities have celebrated Juneteenth for generations. It was designated a federal holiday in 2021. This year, on June 19th, 2024, communities nationwide will unite to commemorate this historic day with parades, music, and reflections on the journey to freedom.

"When the Union army reached Galveston and notified Black people of their freedom, it generally signified that the last segment of the roughly four million slaves in the South now knew they were officially free," Nafeesa Muhammad, Associate Professor of History at Spelman College, told TIME in an email. "And this is the significance of Juneteenth."

From Texas to a National Holiday in US

According to history.com, in 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday; several others followed suit over the years. In June 2021, Congress passed a resolution establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday; President Biden signed it into law on June 17, 2021.

The Origins of the Name "Juneteenth"

According to Time magazine, Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas and other southern states as early as 1866. Many Texans pushed for the holiday to be recognised by the state-a designation that finally came in 1980. But where exactly did the term "Juneteenth" come from? It was a Houston paper that first shortened "June 19th" to "Juneteenth" around 1890.

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