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101 Guide: What Is Juneteenth and Why Is It Important

by Zain Ashfaq 19 Jun 2023

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is an important holiday celebrated on June 19th each year in the United States. It is the most celebrated national holiday commemorating the end of slavery throughout the United States.

On the 19th of June, 1865, a significant event unfolded in Galveston, Texas. This marked months after the end of the Civil War and over two years since President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which declared freedom for enslaved individuals. Union troops, under the command of Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston to emancipate the remaining 250,000 individuals held in bondage. This arrival symbolized the unwavering determination of the Federal Government to ensure the liberation of every enslaved person across the United States.

A key aspect that is often related to Juneteenth celebrations includes the "fist in the air" philosophy, which is a symbol of strength e and solidarity. It encourages us to keep fighting for equal rights, combating discrimination, and promoting equality in society.

Juneteenth is an occasion to celebrate and honor Black culture and history. By wearing the Ubuntu Fist in the Air t-shirts, everyone can proudly display their support for the Black community and their commitment.


Juneteenth is a combination of the words "June" and "nineteenth," telling its association with the date it commemorates. It derives its name from the specific date on which it is celebrated. June 19, 1865, is considered vital because it was the day when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of slavery. The word "Juneteenth" came into common usage as a convenient shorthand for this important historical event.


The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, was signed on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War. It declared that all slaves in Confederate territories were to be freed. However, the actual implementation of this proclamation was dependent on Union military victories and the presence of federal troops in Confederate-held areas. Therefore, the time that passed between the Emancipation Proclamation and Juneteenth was approximately two and a half years. This period represents the delay in delivering the news of freedom to the enslaved people in Texas, making Juneteenth a milestone in the struggle for African American liberation and civil rights.


The first Juneteenth celebration took place in Galveston, Texas, in 1866, one year after General Order No. 3 was read. Formerly enslaved people and their descendants organized a jubilant event to honor their newfound freedom. This initial gathering featured prayer services, educational events, music, singing, and communal meals.

Over time, Juneteenth celebrations spread across Texas and eventually expanded to other states. African Americans who migrated from Texas to different parts of the country carried the tradition with them, contributing to the wider recognition and observance of Juneteenth.

When Was Juneteenth Established?

Juneteenth was officially established as a state holiday in Texas in 1980. In the years that followed, several other states recognized the importance of the holiday and passed legislation to commemorate Juneteenth. However, it was not until June 17, 2021, that Juneteenth was nationally recognized as a federal holiday. The passing of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act by the U.S. 


Juneteenth and Independence Day are both important  dates in American history, commemorating important milestones.

Independence Day celebrated on July 4th, marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. This historic occasion indicates the birth of the United States as a sovereign nation, free from British rule. Independence Day is commonly associated with patriotic displays, such as parades, fireworks, and gatherings, reflecting the values of freedom, liberty, and national unity. It serves as a day to honor the founding principles of the country and to celebrate the achievements and sacrifices of the early patriots who fought for independence.

Juneteenth, known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, is observed on June 19th each year. It commemorates the day in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the emancipation of enslaved African Americans two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is an important day in African American history, symbolizing the end of slavery and the ongoing struggle for equality and justice.

Both Juneteenth and Independence Day hold great significance in the American narrative, and they represent distinct historical moments.

What Are 3 Facts About Juneteenth? 

Literary Connections

Juneteenth has inspired several renowned authors to incorporate it into their literary works. One notable example is the book "Juneteenth" by Ralph Ellison, a celebrated African-American writer. Ellison's novel delves into the complexities of race, identity, and freedom, intertwining the historical context of Juneteenth with the struggles and aspirations of African Americans. Additionally, authors such as Carolyn Meyer and Ann Rinaldi have also centered their books around this momentous day, further highlighting its impact on American literature.

Miss Juneteenth Contests

In certain cities and communities, Miss Juneteenth contests have become an integral part of the celebrations. These contests provide a platform for young African-American women to showcase their talents, intelligence, and leadership skills. Participants often engage in various activities, including talent performances, public speaking, and community service projects. These contests serve as an empowering opportunity to highlight the achievements and aspirations of African-American women. 

The Juneteenth Flag Of Freedom

Juneteenth Flag of Freedom serves as a powerful representation. The flag consists of two horizontal halves, with the top half being red and the bottom half being blue. In the center, a white star represents Texas, the state where Juneteenth originated. The colors hold deep symbolism: red represents resilience, and the bloodshed endured during slavery, while blue means the profound importance of community and unity. Each year, a Juneteenth Flag raising ceremony is held in Galveston, Texas, commemorating the historic day and reaffirming the values it represents.


Juneteenth is celebrated across many communities, but everyone celebrates it in their own way. People gather to honor African American history and heritage with activities such as storytelling, music performances, and art exhibitions. Traditional food and drink, such as barbecue, soul food, and red beverages, are often enjoyed as part of the festivities.

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