A US holiday. Sort of. Try convincing your boss. It commemorates the freeing (on June 19, 1865, hence the name) of the last slaves on American soil, those in Texas - nearly three years after Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. A Union general, Gordon Granger, once the state had been successfully invaded and occupied, issued an order (General Order #3) in Galveston making the end of slavery official. Again.

Editor's note: As of 2021, Juneteenth is a Federal holiday.

Juneteenth is a legal holiday in Texas, since 1980, say all the web sites I've checked, although it was several times proclaimed for a particular year before that.
Almost everything I've ever read on the history of Juneteenth expresses shock and dismay that the slaves hadn't been told they were free years earlier. Yes, it sucks that the slaves weren't freed earlier, but people who write this way are fairly uninformed about the Emancipation Proclamation and the relationship of the Confederacy to the United States. Abraham Lincoln's proclamation specifically said the slaves were free only in those states that had left the Union (not the couple of slave states who did not secede) -- he was basically giving an order covering only the territory he had no authority over (by the view of the government controlling that territory). In most places, slaves did not learn they were officially free until Union soldiers took over the area they were in, or indeed until the American Civil War actually ended in April 1865. (Sometimes after the war ended, as in this case of Galveston, where the U.S. troops didn't get there to occupy the area until June 1865.) The slaveowners were not about to give up the free labor until someone made them.

On Juneteenth Day everyone gets dressed in their Sunday best and packs picnic baskets with fried chicken, corn bread and beans. Then we’d all drive out to the country and find the appointed hill top. It always has a great view, since Juneteenth is about looking into the future. The party is like the biggest picnic in the word: with all your family and friends and people you’ve never seen in your life before. There is music and usually a tent set up for dancing. For the little kids there’s red pop. A Juneteenth picnic is ended by everyone gathering around and singing a song such as Lift Every Voice and Sing in a big circle so you can see everyone's beautiful faces in the setting sun.

There aren't as many Juneteenth Celebrations these days as there were when I was a kid. But I think they should bring it back and maybe we can even invite the white people this time since they don’t seem to be set (for the most part) on being so mean to us anymore!

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