The prohibition of slavery was codified into law when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Yet, freedom did not materialize for many as the American Civil War raged on. Even after the war ended on April 9, 1865, freedom was denied to those enslaved in the westernmost Confederate occupied states like Texas. It was not until Union General Gordan Granger led more than 2,000 soldiers to Galveston Bay to enforce General Order 3 that freed the last 250,000 enslaved Americans on June 19, 1865.
Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery and is the longest running African American holiday. It officially became a national holiday on June 17, 2021, when President Joseph Biden signed a proclamation observing Juneteenth Day.
While Juneteenth marks one of the most influential milestones of American history, we still have a long way to go in the fight for racial justice and equality. Juneteenth provides a reason to celebrate but also to support black-owned businesses and black-led organizations.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri joined over 25 organizations in calling for a comprehensive plan for reparations in St. Louis. Read the full proposal.
Join a local Juneteenth celebrations in your area.