As many around the nation and the world prepare to celebrate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, here’s what you should know about the important date in history.
Juneteenth is a celebration of June 19, 1865. On that day, slaves in Galveston, Texas were informed by Major General Gordon Granger that slavery had ended. This occurred over two years after Abraham Lincoln outlawed slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation.
The news, which effectively ended their enslavement, ignited a slew of celebrations.
While there aren’t any official Juneteenth songs, as the celebrations grew so did the adopting of so-called “Freedom Songs” or spirituals that are largely connected to the civil rights movement. Standout songs like “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and “This Little Light Of Mine” also figured prominently in Juneteenth gatherings over the decades.
The family gatherings and cookouts that mark most nationally recognized holidays are also a strong centerpiece of Juneteenth. Community centers and churches also host events where readings of the Proclamation will take place, along with historical enactments and the like.
At these same events, the Freedom Songs will also hold some prominence in reflecting on the trials of those who were liberated from slavery that day.
Today, 47 states, including the District of Columbia, officially observe Juneteenth.