Juneteenth is a celebration of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in Texas, and has been an official Texas holiday since 1979.
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to announce the end of slavery in Texas, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Major General's announcement, General Order Number 3, reads as follows: "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. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere."
Representative Al Edwards authored H.B. 1016, 66th R.S. (1979), declaring June 19th, Emancipation Day, an official Texas holiday. The Juneteenth historical marker (right) was installed in Galveston on June 21, 2014. In 2016, a monument dedicated to African Americans in Texas was unveiled on the Texas Capitol grounds (cover image).
Last year, Congress passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act (Public Law 117–17), making June 19 a public holiday. It was signed by President Joe Biden on June 17, 2021.
You can also find more information about Juneteenth from the following resources:
- "Juneteenth Journey," The Medallion, Texas Historical Commission, November 3, 2014
- The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth, National Museum of African American History of Culture, June 19, 2019
- National Archives Safeguards Original 'Juneteenth' General Order, National Archives News, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, June 19, 2020
- "Legislative History of Juneteenth," In Custodia Legis, Law Library of Congress, June 23, 2021
- Texas Observes Juneteenth, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, page last modified June 2, 2022
- Juneteenth: Fact Sheet, Congressional Research Service, updated June 14, 2022
- "The Surprising Local Origin Story of Juneteenth," Governing, June 17, 2022