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For over 150 years, African-Americans have gathered on June 19, known as “Juneteenth,” to celebrate freedom from slavery. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. While President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, as many as 250,000 enslaved people did not learn of their freedom for another two and a half years. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

Long celebrated in many different ways, Juneteenth recognizes the spirit of liberation, resilience, joy, and creativity of Black Americans in the face of slavery's enduring legacy and centuries of racial discrimination. Juneteenth is celebrated through a history of rich traditions, including lively celebrations in the form of festivals and parades, music, storytelling, and picnics. Traditionally, the color red, representing resilience, is highlighted in food, drinks, and dress. We hope that you will learn more about the importance of Juneteenth through these and other resources and find some way to celebrate freedom from slavery on that day.