Juneteenth (a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth”), also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Cel-Liberation Day, is an American holiday celebrated on June 19.
On June 19, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation which had been issued on January 1, 1863 in the United States was read to enslaved African Americans in Texas by Gordon Granger. Texas was the last Confederate State to have the proclamation announced, after the end of the American Civil War in April of that year. Texas was the most remote of the slave states, and minimal fighting meant there were few Union troops present to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation until after the war ended.
Celebrations of the day date back to 1866. At first, celebration involved church-centered community gatherings in Texas. It spread across the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s. Often the centerpiece was a food festival. A third stage was reached in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, when the focus became the story of struggle for postwar civil rights. The 1970s saw a fourth stage, which returned the focus to African American freedom and arts. By the 21st century, Juneteenth was celebrated in most major cities across the United States. Activists are pushing Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday. Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 47 of the 50 states.