Recognizing and celebrating Juneteenth, the newest national holiday
Today we recognize and celebrate the 156th Juneteenth, which became an official United States holiday yesterday. On June 19, 1865, the Union freed the last slaves of the Confederacy in Galveston, TX, more than two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that went into effect on Jan. 1, 1863, and two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered and the Union Army won the Civil War.
Also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating 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 and later celebrated in other states. Prior to this week’s announcement of a national holiday, nearly all U.S. states and the District of Columbia recognized Juneteenth as an official state holiday or ceremonial observance.
We encourage you to learn more about the history and meaning of Juneteenth. 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 have been perpetuated 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 just assume anything you see about the holiday — especially posts on social media designed to trigger instant emotional reactions such as anger.
For much more on the Juneteenth holiday, check out our Flipboard collection of articles and resources.