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Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is an annual holiday in some states of the United States. Celebrated on June 19, it commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. The holiday originated in Galveston, Texas; for more than a century, the state of Texas was the primary home of Juneteenth celebrations. Since 1980, Juneteenth has been an official state holiday in Texas. Even where it is not an official holiday, its infomal observance has spread to some other states ranging from Alabama to Alaska, with a few celebrations even taking place in other countries.[1][2] [3]


Though the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect on January 1, 1863, it had little immediate effect on most slaves' day-to-day lives, particularly in Texas, which was almost entirely under Confederate control. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived on Galveston Island to take possession of the state and enforce slaves' new freedoms. Standing on the balcony of Galveston's Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of "General Order No. 3":

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 personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

That day has since become known as Juneteenth, a name derived from a portmanteau of the words June and nineteenth.

Slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets with jubilant celebrations. Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year. Across many parts of Texas, freed slaves pooled their funds to purchase land specifically for their communities' increasingly large Juneteenth gatherings — including Houston's Emancipation Park, Mexia's Booker T. Washington Park, and Emancipation Park in Austin. Within a few years, these celebrations spread to other states and have become an annual tradition. Celebrations often open with praying and religious ceremonies, and include a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. A wide range of festivities entertain participants, from music and dancing to contests of physical strength and intellect. Baseball and other popular American games are played. Food is central to the celebrations, with barbecued meats being especially popular.

~ Wikipedia

Maria :D (Maria D.), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:15 (sixteen years ago) link

this holiday has the most beautiful narrative origin of any holiday, Christmas & Easter included

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:19 (sixteen years ago) link

and it's so awesome that ilx, with its profound interest in all matters of American race relations, has had so much to say about it today

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:20 (sixteen years ago) link

Our radio-station-to-be co-sponsored a Juneteenth Celebration this weekend with the NAACP. It was great. We had a chorus sing old spirituals, an author speak about the history of the day, a documentary film, and a couple of other speakers.

Anybody here celebrate or even know about it? I'm kind of surprised that most people have never heard of it.

Maria :D (Maria D.), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:25 (sixteen years ago) link

and it's so awesome that ilx, with its profound interest in all matters of American race relations, has had so much to say about it today

Yay! Er, wait.

It is a great holiday and by default it makes me think as well of Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man came off Reserves today and that should have prompted me to think of what today was.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:27 (sixteen years ago) link

its infomal observance has spread to some other states ranging from Alabama to Alaska

I really hope they were going South to North, rather than A to Z.

But seriously, folks: why isn't this a national holiday?

naus (Robert T), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:28 (sixteen years ago) link


I'm from Virginia. It wasn't celebrated there, but I know about it somehow. I read a lot.

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:28 (sixteen years ago) link

My supe took off work today to celebrate Juneteenth.

The Milkmaid (82375538-A) (The Milkmaid), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:29 (sixteen years ago) link

when I was a kid my family used to go to political-rally-with-barbecue things - lots of public speakers with a P.A., some mellow SoCal funk bands in a sort of Lakeside or Tierra vibe (not actually Lakeside or Tierra though) - we went to political stuff all the time though so Juneteenth was sorta "this week's rally" for me

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:30 (sixteen years ago) link

But seriously, folks: why isn't this a national holiday?

because white people don't really give much of a shit, that's why

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:31 (sixteen years ago) link

Just got this message forwarded to me:

Councilor urges state holiday marking end of slavery
By Kimberly Atkins
Boston Herald Reporter
Thursday, June 15, 2006 - Updated: 12:57 AM EST

City Councilor Charles Yancey wants a new state holiday marking Juneteenth Independence Day, marking the end of the last vestiges of slavery in the United States 141 years ago.
Yesterday the City Council passed Yancey’s nonbonding resolution urging state lawmakers to adopt the June 19 legal holiday statewide, joining 19 other states and the District of Columbia.
“We thought it was something the African-American community deserves,” Yancey’s spokesman Kenneth Yarbrough said.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when in Galveston, Texas, Union Gen. Gordon Granger announced the freedom of all slaves in the Southwest region of the country, according to the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation’s Web site. The move came two years after the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln.
Yancey also blasted President Bush for declining to participate in the annual national Juneteenth observance in Washington.
“Every U.S. president, who has had the privilege to serve the people of the United States should recognize that forced, unpaid labor was used to build the White House and the Capitol,” Yancey said in a written statement.
Yarbrough said Yancey will send the resolution to members of the Black Legislative Caucus and other lawmakers on Beacon Hill to start the process of seeking a permanent recognition.
Thousands of petitions have been sent to the president seeking to make the occasion a national holiday. The date is also often used by activists seeking federal reparations for slavery to hold rallies and other events.

Maria :D (Maria D.), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:32 (sixteen years ago) link

I went to political things with my family too, but mostly they were Teamster pork chop barbeques and chili-and-door-prizes-for-the-city-councilman type affairs. I didn't know what Juneteenth was.

The Milkmaid (82375538-A) (The Milkmaid), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:33 (sixteen years ago) link

(I mean back when I was a kid, not like in the last five minutes)

The Milkmaid (82375538-A) (The Milkmaid), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:34 (sixteen years ago) link

Next time we organize a Juneteenth thingy, we'll make sure to have barbecued meats. Wikipedia told me so! Our radio station will definitely be celebrating it every year.

We had Robert Hayden, who writes books about black history, start off by talking about the history of the holiday. He asked the 40 score people there "What are we celebrating?"

That's the thing about the holiday -- it's bittersweet. It acknowledges that there were still people enslaved after the Emancipation Proclamation had supposedly set them free.

Maria :D (Maria D.), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:37 (sixteen years ago) link

I didn't realize Juneteenth was recognized outside of Texas.

milo z (mlp), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 00:39 (sixteen years ago) link

"Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is an annual holiday in SOME states of the United States."
(why can't some regional customs stay that way? who cares if some white people in Maine don't know about this, shouldn't affect the meaning/fun of the day for those that care)

Making it national would just mean another flimsy excuse for BLOWOUT SALES EXTRAVAGANZAS

timmy tannin (pompous), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 02:35 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm not saying making it a big, commercial holiday; but I would like to see it recognized. Like, why does Groundhog Day make it onto some calendars but Juneteenth doesn't? A national day of recognition isn't too much to ask.

Besides, the day holds value for all Americans, not just the descendents of freed slaves. The reunification of the country, us as a nation finally ditching the abhorrent practice of slavery (within our own borders, at least).

naus (Robert T), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 03:20 (sixteen years ago) link

it always bothered me that emancipation day wasn't an officially recognized federal holiday. i can't think of anything more worthy.

but then lincoln's birthday isn't even a real holiday anymore, they replaced it with "presidents day" (like anyone was dying for a holiday commemorating warren g harding and rutherford b hayes). we'll probably get "confederate memorial day" before we get this.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 05:12 (sixteen years ago) link

"every president except that no-good commie FDR's day"

lavendra diamondheart (Jody Beth Rosen), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 05:15 (sixteen years ago) link

Groundhog Day = meaningless 15 second clip on the evening news. Not something to aspire to.

I feel that so many US holidays have such a perfunctory feel to them, it's nice to see something "organic" thrive in pockets of the country and still have great meaning to those that celebrate.

timmy tannin (pompous), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 05:15 (sixteen years ago) link

But seriously, folks: why isn't this a national holiday?

It's not even a state holiday here (TX) but is well-celebrated. I celebrated by, uh, working. hard.

Miss Misery xox (MissMiseryTX), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 11:50 (sixteen years ago) link

There was a skeleton crew at my office.

I was in because I'm hourly and not salaried.

100% CHAMPS with a Yes! Attitude. (Austin, Still), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 12:01 (sixteen years ago) link

DC's official Emancipation Day holiday is April 16, I think, but there are still Juneteenth festivals, street parties, etc.

I look forward to the arrival of Juneteenth holiday-themed M&Ms.

Stephen X (Stephen X), Tuesday, 20 June 2006 13:46 (sixteen years ago) link

But England has a holiday commemorating their ending of slavery!

naus (Robert T), Wednesday, 21 June 2006 00:40 (sixteen years ago) link

eleven months pass...

We're putting on a Juneteenth celebration today in cooperation with the local NAACP. I'm supposed to pick up drinks and haven't yet. I think about 50 people will come. How much water, juice, soda should I get?

Maria :D, Sunday, 17 June 2007 14:50 (fifteen years ago) link

This year we're making it more of a potluck food-oriented gathering. Last year we had speakers talking about history and everybody was getting antsy. There wasn't enough food or time for mingling. This year, people can bring a dish in lieu of the admission fee.

Maria :D, Sunday, 17 June 2007 14:51 (fifteen years ago) link

J -- Juneteenth represents the joy of freedom--the chance for a new beginning.

U -- Unless we expose the truth about the African-American slave experience, Americans won't be truly free.

N -- Never must we forget our ancestors' endurance of one of the worst slave experiences in human history.

E -- Every American has benefitted from the wealth blacks created through over 200 years of free labor and Juneteenth allows us to acknowledge that debt.

T -- To encourage every former slave-holding state to follow Texas' (and Oklahoma's) example and make Juneteenth a state holiday.

E -- Everyday in america, blacks are reminded of the legacy of slavery. Juneteenth counters that by reminding us of the promise of deliverance.

E -- Even on the journey to discover who we are, Juneteenth allows us to reflect on where we've been, where we're at and where we're going as a people.

N -- Never give up hope is the legacy our enslaved ancestors left. It was this legacy that produced black heroism in the Civil War and helped launch the modern civil rights era. It is this legacy we celebrate.

T -- To proclaim for all the world to hear, that human rights must never again become subservient to property rights.

H -- History books have only told a small part of the story; Juneteenth gives us a chance to set the record straight.


Maria :D, Sunday, 17 June 2007 14:57 (fifteen years ago) link

What a great celebration, yay!


StanM, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 20:14 (fifteen years ago) link

Well that could have happened at a farmer's market. Has nothing to do with the holiday.

Ms Misery, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 20:15 (fifteen years ago) link

two years pass...

It's today! This is Rufus's mom Maria posting as him. Maybe I'm a sap but I get teary-eyed when I read the words "jubilation" and "emancipation" and "free at last, free at last." I decorated the record store window for it.

rufusmagufus, Saturday, 19 June 2010 05:15 (twelve years ago) link


cynthia batter blaster (Stevie D), Saturday, 19 June 2010 05:25 (twelve years ago) link


cynthia batter blaster (Stevie D), Saturday, 19 June 2010 05:25 (twelve years ago) link

three years pass...

It's today

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 19 June 2013 15:18 (nine years ago) link

What is the traditional way to celebrate this auspicious day?

Aimless, Wednesday, 19 June 2013 17:29 (nine years ago) link

Reading Paula Deen for filth.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 19 June 2013 17:33 (nine years ago) link



Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 19 June 2013 17:33 (nine years ago) link


Alas, this list of events in all the US states is only useful if you can go back in time to 2011

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 19 June 2013 18:41 (nine years ago) link

So they read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, Texas this morning.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 19 June 2013 18:44 (nine years ago) link

by chance, was reading 'lincoln's hundred days' by louis masur -- about the 100 days leading up to the release of the proclamation -- while waiting for my car to be worked on this morning. a terrific read.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Wednesday, 19 June 2013 20:09 (nine years ago) link

anyone here read the "novel" "by" ellison? I love invisible man. Is it one of the good unfinished works?

sjuttiosju_u (wins), Wednesday, 19 June 2013 20:15 (nine years ago) link

quotation marks fully justified. it's a mess and a fake.

oxygenating our wombspace (abanana), Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:13 (nine years ago) link

nine years pass...

WHITE CO-WORKER: "And then I noticed there was hardly any traffic on the road. Then I remembered, it was Juneteenth!"

ME: "Yeah! Federal holiday and everything now."

WCW: "But you know, too bad it's not for us..."

ME: ...

ME: "I don't know about that? I mean, we're all Americans."

WCW: ...

WCW: "I mean, we're not bankers or postal workers, Plains."

pplains, Monday, 20 June 2022 17:04 (one week ago) link

I sincerely hope your WCW was thinking in this vein: FASTER YOU FUCKERS - The ILX Work & Productivity Thread, bcz if not that was a regrettable exchange.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Monday, 20 June 2022 18:40 (one week ago) link

Overheard a confused woman at the grocery store who couldn't figure out why she was going to a June 10th barbecue when it was almost the 20th.

papal hotwife (milo z), Monday, 20 June 2022 19:02 (one week ago) link

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