Juneteenth commemorates the date of June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and delivered the long-delayed news of the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued by President Abraham Lincoln more than 2 years earlier. More than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state received that message and although the Emancipation Proclamation did not officially end slavery, it signaled a changing tide in the Union that trickled to the Confederate states.
Upon hearing the announcement, celebrations of freedom became a tradition for many descendants of slavery.
This moment in time set the stage for Black people in the US to pursue the promise of freedom, including establishing self-sustaining communities like Tulsa, Oklahoma; colleges and universities like Prairie View A&M, Texas Southern, Howard, Spelman, Dillard, and more; creating musical genres (blues, jazz, r&b, rap); expanded the religious denomination (African Methodist Episcopal Church) they created; and much more.
Now, 156 years later with the hope of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for everyone, we celebrate Juneteenth to remember the past and take collective action towards a shared future of equity, justice, equality, and opportunity for all.