Eileen Ybarra, Librarian III, Electronic Resources,
June 19 is 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 19, 1865, Union army soldier 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. Valley Times Collection

Further Reading

Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux, and Nelson, Drew

Grack, Rachel

Let's Celebrate Emancipation Day & Juneteenth
Derubertis, Barbara

The Story Behind Juneteenth
Reader, Jack

Juneteenth: Celebrations in My World
Peppas, Lynn

Murray, Julie

Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery
Willis, Deborah

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
Wilkerson, Isabel

Juneteenth: The Story of Our Holidays
Leeper, Angela and Ponto, Joanna

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom
Johnson, Angela