The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863 – but a quarter of a million people in Texas remained enslaved for years to come.
MINNEAPOLIS — June 16 is the nation’s youngest holiday, but its roots stretch back more than 150 years.
The United States celebrated its first officially recognized June 16 in 2021 after President Joe Biden signed legislation establishing June 16 as National Independence Day.
Recognition of the holiday gained prominence in 2020 amid nationwide protests over police killings of black Americans, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
While signing legislation establishing June 16 as a federal holiday, Biden called June 16 “a day of deep weight and deep power, a day to remember the moral taint, the terrible toll that the demanded and continues to demand slavery in the country”.
It became the nation’s 12th federal holiday – the first to be added since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was introduced in 1983.
Although its federal recognition is recent, the Juneteenth has been celebrated by generations of Black Americans.
The Story of June 16th
Juneteenth was written in Galveston, Texas after the end of the Civil War.
The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 declared enslaved people legally free in the Confederate States.
“Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched on plantations and through southern towns, reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation that spread the word of liberty in the Confederate States,” says the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
But the proclamation could not be enforced in places still under Confederate control. For the enslaved people of Texas, freedom would not come until after the Civil War ended.
On June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston Bay and proclaimed that the quarter million black slaves in Texas were free by Executive Decree.
That was more than two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia.
Laura Smalley, freed from a plantation near Bellville, Texas, recalled in a 1941 interview that the man she called the “Old Master” had gone off to the Civil War and come home without to tell the people he had enslaved what had happened.
“The old master didn’t say it, you know, they were free,” Smalley said at the time. “I think now they’re saying they worked six months after that. six months And release them on June 19th. That is why we celebrate this day.”
Liberated ones in Galveston a year later began celebrating June 16 – a combination of the words “June” and “nineteenth”. The commemoration spread across the United States as black Texans relocated.
How is June 16th celebrated?
June 16 celebrations across the country include picnics, block parties, and larger gatherings, including parades.
The vast majority of states recognize June 16 as a holiday or day of recognition, like Flag Day. This year, nearly 20 states are expected to close state offices and lay off most of their public employees by June 16. Fewer have made it a paid vacation. Many states have been slow to do more than issue a proclamation or resolution, though some continue to commemorate the Confederacy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/what-is-juneteenth-history-federal-holiday/507-ba48601e-842d-4542-9f48-a41655a9c412 What is Juneteenth 2022? History of the new federal holiday