History Series: Juneteenth

History of Juneteenth: and the Emancipation Proclamation

The newest US Federal holiday

Bill Petro
ILLUMINATION
Published in
5 min readJun 18, 2024

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NASA HQ Juneteenth Flag. Image: Wikimedia

June Nineteenth, or Juneteenth, historically marked the celebration of the emancipation of African-American slaves in Texas in 1865. While the annual celebration started in Texas the following year in 1866 — and became an official Texas state holiday there in 1980 — this formerly obscure holiday is now observed across the United States and around the world.

In 2021, Congress and the President made Juneteenth the 12th official federal holiday. It is celebrated with church-centered celebrations, parades, fairs, backyard parties, games, contests, and cookouts.

Now it goes by many names and has often been celebrated on the third Saturday in June. It is also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth National Independence Day, and Black Independence Day.

Britannica.com calls it a “holiday commemorating the end of slavery,” and the History Channel says that it “commemorates an effective end of slavery in the United States.”

But was it? What is the origin of this holiday that is almost 160 years old?

Origin of Juneteenth

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Bill Petro
ILLUMINATION

Writer, historian, technologist. Former Silicon Valley tech exec. Author of fascinating articles on history, tech, pop culture, & travel. https://billpetro.com