Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, commemorates the final abolition of slavery in the United States. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth; it is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in many states.
Although President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 declaring slaves were to be freed freed in the rebelling states, it had little actual effect. Even after Lee’s surrender in 1865, Texas did not comply until June 1865, when Union troops under General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas. On June 19, standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger issued General Order No. 3, declaring slavery at an end. Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year. Freed people pooled funds to purchase land specifically for their celebrations, notably Houston‘s Emancipation Park, Mexia‘s Booker T. Washington Park, and Emancipation Park in Austin. The event was made a Texas state holiday beginning in 1980; by 2013, 43 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or special day of observance.