Juneteenth, sometimes also called “Freedom Day” and “Emancipation Day”, or the nation’s “Second Independence Day,” takes place in Texas every year on June 19th. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, ordering all slaves to be freed in the seceding southern states. However, freedom would not come for all enslaved Black people until the end of the Civil War at the hands of the Union Army. On June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, where General Granger announced that “in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
There are scholars who argue that indeed the news of emancipation traveled more quickly and widely throughout the country than is given credence in the history books. There is evidence of large numbers of slaves escaping to freedom after hearing of the emancipation, and there is evidence of many of them joining the Union Army in order to help liberate others still held in bondage. Union General Grant praises and acknowledges the effectiveness and courage of the Black Regiments who fought in the effort to free their brothers and sisters from chains.
47 states and the District of Columbia have designated Juneteenth a holiday, Texas being the first to do so in 1980. An effort to make Juneteenth a national holiday finally succeeded with the passage of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 16, 2021.
Today @POTUS will sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing June 19th as a federal holiday. As the 19th falls on a Saturday, most federal employees will observe the holiday tomorrow, June 18th.— U.S. Office of Personnel Management (@USOPM) June 17, 2021
Opal Lee, 94 year old activist from Ft. Worth, speaking before Congress in support of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.
"Never before, millions have been aware of the atrocities that happened to the enslaved or the blatant disregard for human life that is now occurring, (which is) a residual effect of slavery."
U.S. Senators propose a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
“Juneteenth is about reclaiming our history, rejoicing in the progress we’ve made, and recommitting to the work yet undone," said Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in a press release announcing the measure.