Juneteenth, also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. June 19th was chosen because it was on this day in 1865 “that the 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.” General Granger read aloud General Order No.3 which stated, “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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”
Celebrations of Juneteenth waned during much of the twentieth century, but there was a resurgence of interest beginning in the 1980s’s. Juneteenth is now an official state holiday or observance in 39 states.