Today is the 150th African American Emancipation Day also known as Juneteenth. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond .In 1865, enslaved Africans on Galveston Island, Texas, had been declared free two years earlier but didn’t know it. With the United States still divided over the institution of slavery and recovering after the Civil War, members of the Confederacy weren’t eager to spread the word.
Only after Union soldiers, led by Major Gen. Gordon Granger, worked their way South for more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation did word reach Galveston Island. On June 19, 1865, known as Juneteenth—a melding of the day’s month and date—the last remaining slaves in America were declared free.
Juneteenth, America’s “second Independence Day,” is now celebrated around the country. It is officially observed in 43 states and is a state holiday in Texas, home of the last to know.