Nation, states and local communities embrace Juneteenth

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NLP recognizes and celebrates the 157th Juneteenth, which became an official United States holiday last year. The designation commemorates June 19, 1865, when federal troops freed the last slaves of the Confederacy in Galveston, Texas. More than two and a half years earlier, on Jan. 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. And two months earlier, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army, ending the Civil War.

Also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration marking the end of slavery in the United States, according to the National Archives. Juneteenth has been formally celebrated primarily by people in Black communities in Texas since 1866.

Prior to President Joe Biden designating it a national holiday in 2021, most states and the District of Columbia recognized Juneteenth with an observance of some sort. It was already a holiday in some states, with Texas leading the way in 1980.

While many states automatically adopt a new federal holiday, they do not have to. After last year’s federal declaration, states across the U.S. — both “red” and “blue” — quickly moved to codify the holiday. These include Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, North Dakota, Utah and West Virginia, among others. Counties and cities around the country have also declared Juneteenth a holiday, further establishing it as an important day in American history.

Steer clear of misinformation about Juneteenth

We encourage you to join the News Literacy Project in celebrating Juneteenth and learning more about its history and meaning. This Smithsonian piece is a good place to start. And this New York Times interactive article from 2020 puts the holiday in perspective while celebrating it, too.

As with any important day in U.S. history, there is misinformation about Juneteenth, myths that perpetuate from one decade to the next, and current-day efforts to present the holiday as something it’s not. Make sure to search out an array of credible, standards-based sources and fact-checks and don’t assume anything you see about the holiday — especially posts on social media that trigger emotional reactions such as anger — is credible.

For much more on the Juneteenth holiday, check out our Flipboard collection of articles and resources.

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