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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

WYSK: Juneteenth


What is Juneteenth? (June + nineteenth)

Juneteenth, which stands for June Nineteenth, is a commemoration of an announcement made on June 19, 1865, by Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger informing enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, that they were free. They were in actuality legally free two and a half years earlier through President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Texas was considered a safe haven for slavery before Juneteenth because the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to those enslaved within the Confederacy and not border states or rebel areas. 

General Orders, No. 3 

When Granger informed over 250,000 enslaved people in Texas of their freedom, this signified the official end of chattel slavery in the U.S. The text of that order follows:



GENERAL ORDERS, No. 3. — The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, “all slaves are free.” This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.

The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts, and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

By command of Maj.-Gen. GRANGER.

Why is this date significant ?

While Juneteenth commemorates the day enslaved people in Texas found out they were free on paper, enslaved Americans were not truly free until the ratification on Dec. 6, 1865. 

Juneteenth has been celebrated as a holiday since 1865, primarily by Black Americans, but it was not officially observed by any U.S. state until Texas established it as an official holiday in 1979. The day has gained more attention in recent years alongside racial injustices perpetrated against Black Americans. 

How did Juneteenth become a national holiday?

On June 16, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation in a 415-14 vote to make Juneteenth a national holiday. The Senate unanimously approved the bill, and President Joe Biden officially signed the bill into law on June 17. This is the first federal holiday created since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. 

Following the bill’s passage, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “We must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution.”

How should we honor Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is meant to be a celebratory day for Black Americans, honoring the freedom of enslaved people more than 150 years ago. In the early days of Juneteenth celebrations, Black communities would hold rodeos, barbeques and pageants. Today, some Black Americans choose to take the day off to celebrate in a similar way to how many Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, with fireworks and cookouts.

Non-Black Americans can use this holiday to celebrate and to honor Black citizenry and culture by supporting Black-owned businesses and self-educating about the enslavement of Black Americans.  he Hawk compiled a list last summer of resources in support of The Movement for Black Lives as well as a list of ways to self-educate and inform.

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