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Remember and Celebrate Juneteenth

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You probably know the story behind the fourth of July, but did you know that’s not the only independence day celebrated in the U.S.? Here’s more on Juneteeth, a holiday celebrating and honoring the independence of African-Americans from slavery in the 1860s. 

Fast Facts About Juneteenth

  • While the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 was supposed to free “all persons held as slaves” in the U.S. that didn’t happen right away
  • Two and a half years later, on June 19, 1865, 2,000 Union soldiers visited Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and make sure slaves were freed
  • In Texas, General Gordon Granger delivered General Orders Number 3, stating “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free”
  • That day signified freedom for the 250,000 of Texas’s slaves, and celebrations began among the newly freed
  • Months later, slavery was formally abolished with the ratification of the 13th Amendment in Dec. 1865
  • The next year, “Jubillee Day” was celebrated on June 19 by the newly freed men and women
  • Over time, the holiday has had different names including Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth National Freedom Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day
  • Some of the first Juneteenth celebrations were held at churches since African-Americans were banned from using public facilities to celebrate
  • Early celebrations included cookouts, dressing up, prayers, dances, and parades. Some would even make a pilgrimage to Galveston, Texas where Juneteenth first started
  • Juneteeth is considered the longest-running African American U.S. holiday
  • In 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official U.S. holiday
  • More states followed in the years since, and on June 15, the Senate passed a bill establishing Juneteenth as a national U.S. holiday. It now awaits a signature by President Biden. 
  • In May, Gov. Jay Inslee signed off on House Bill 1016, making Juneteeth a paid day off for state employees. 

Check here to find a Juneteenth celebration near you.

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