Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, dates back to June 19, 1865, when the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that slaves were free due to the war having ended. Remarkably, this was two and a half years after the official January 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln. Many versions exist regarding the explanation of the two and a half year delay in the delivery of this important news. Nevertheless, one can imagine, the reactions to this profound news ranged from shock to immediate jubilation.
A variety of activities existed to entertain a multitude of crowds, many of these traditions still continue today. Barbecuing, picnics, rodeos, fishing, and baseball are a few of the typical Juneteenth activities that exist today. But, education and self-improvement has been the major focus of Juneteenth celebrations. Today with all of the unrest in this country and abroad, celebrating Juneteenth Day seems even more relevant as we go about our daily lives.
Check your local area for any activities today. The New York Public Library (NYPL) has a host of online events, as well as books of interest for children, teens, and adults. I hope you will take some time today to check out at least one event. And, don’t forget the books that you can add to your personal libraries.
Happy Juneteenth Day!