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Juneteenth

Eileen Ybarra, Librarian, Digital Content Team,
Juneteenth

“The people from Texas took Juneteenth Day to Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and other places they went.”

— Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns

When the emancipation proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln, the news didn’t immediately free all African-Americans from slavery. In fact, it took two and a half years for the news to finally become official in Texas. On June 19th 1865, Union army solider General Gordan Granger, arrived in Galveston Texas. He then proclaimed the state’s slaves free that day. For African-Americans still living in slavery at the time in Texas, the proclamation was a cause for celebration, joy and relief. In fact, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. 

Juneteenth is a day is observed widely all over the South, and in cities throughout the United States.

“Granger’s order was momentous, but it was no magic bullet. Even with the ratification of the 13thAmendment in December 1865, the emancipated people of Texas, and the rest of America, confronted violent resistance as they attempted to claim the promise of their liberation. Any small gains came in the face of whips and guns, followed by the well-documented decades of Jim Crow laws and Klan terror. Officially neglected, over time Juneteenth lost much of its resonance in the black community.

But it has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. Spurred by a revival of pride in African-American traditions long denied or suppressed, Juneteenth has gained official recognition — although not necessarily full legal holiday status — in a number of states, starting, appropriately, with Texas, which made Juneteenth a paid holiday for state employees in 1980."


— Kenneth C. Davis, Juneteenth is for Everyone

NAACP members, outside Knollwood Country Club, plan Juneteenth ball

Members of Los Angeles' NAACP Valley Branch meet to plan Juneteenth festivities in June, 1964. Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

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