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Celebrating Juneteenth

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Emancipation Proclamation. Lithograph by L. Lipman, Milwaukee, Wisc., Feb. 26, 1864. Prints and Photographs Division.
Emancipation Proclamation. Lithograph by L. Lipman, Milwaukee, Wisc., Feb. 26, 1864. Prints and Photographs Division.

Editor’s note: This blog has been updated to remove an exterior website as a source of confusing information.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, Major Gen. Gordon Granger led Union soldiers into Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and slavery was abolished – two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

President Lincoln’s edict had little impact on the people of Texas, since there were few Union troops around at the time to enforce it. But, with the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee in April 1865 and the arrival of Gen. Gordon Granger’s regiment in Galveston, troops were finally strong enough to enforce the executive order. Newly freed men rejoiced, originating the annual “Juneteenth” celebration, which commemorates the freeing of the slaves in Texas.

Although Juneteenth has been informally celebrated each year since 1865, it wasn’t until June 3, 1979, that Texas became the first state to proclaim Juneteenth an official state holiday.

The day of Jubelo. 1865. Prints and Photographs Division.
The day of Jubelo. 1865. Prints and Photographs Division.

The Library’s “Voices from the Days of Slavery” presentation contains several interviews with former Texas slaves.

The Library’s collections are particularly wealthy in resources regarding African-American history and slavery, including photographs, documents and sound recordings. This web guide is a good place to start.

You can also read more about Juneteenth in this blog post.


Comments (7)

  1. Sadly, future celebrations of this joyous occasion will always be marred by memories of the massacre at the church in Charleston, SC.

  2. Why are we celebrating Juneteenth? Are we free? The police are still killing our black man and those who they are not killing they are arresting. So what are we celebrating really. We are still enslaved and fighting.

  3. The Library of Congress ought to correct the misinformation on this page. is not a reliable source. The part about the single messenger, perhaps murdered along the way, is an absurdity. There are other inaccuracies as well. This lack of historical knowledge is disappointing.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for writing. Please note this post is five years old. It wasn’t written by a current member of our staff. Although the item does cite the exterior website as a source for “possible” explanations, and thus takes no position on their accuracy, I am removing that passage as confusing.The LOC blog policy is to cite our own or other museum-quality sources. Meanwhile, please note that our current Juneteenth story relies on such historical sources:


  4. Thanks!

  5. In America we have laws for red yellow black and white when anyone of us break the law we need to face the consequences where it’s for speeding or bank Robert we have the right to be checked out you have to call police and have them to check me out for being suspicious of doing a crime they can arrest me I will have a day in court but I’m not the only American who might get checked out if we’re innocent it usually comes out the predudice goes both ways it can’t be that police can’t arrest someone who’s breaking the law and resisting arrest black or white

  6. I cant bteath

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