Juneteenth is the commemoration of the official ending of slavery in the United States. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was announced on September 22, 1862 and the American Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, news that they were free did not reach enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas until June 19, 1865. The news was delivered by Major General Gordon Granger and his Union soldiers. Upon landing in Galveston, Granger issued General Order 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 hired laborer.”
Many freedmen decided to travel North or seek out family members in neighboring states such as Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. They nevertheless remembered where and when they were freed. Some made an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston to celebrate Juneteenth. People who did not return celebrated nonetheless. People continue to celebrate this holiday in a variety of ways, including attending rodeos, barbecuing, fishing, playing baseball and attending prayer services. African Americans have emphasized self-improvement and education on this day.
To learn more about the holiday and African American history, see the reading list below:
The Yonkers Public Library has additional reading lists for our Summer reading program at READsquared . Once you sign up, you can browse through our reading lists.