What's the story behind Juneteenth?
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when General Major Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and read a federal order abolishing the institution of chattel slavery in the state:
"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 moment was significant. Texas had been a holdout state where enslavement continued, despite President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery two years before, in 1863, and the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery in the US Constitution. The 13th Amendment passed on January 31, 1986
Since then, Americans have observed and celebrated Juneteenth as Emancipation Day, a day of freedom. On June 3, 1979, Texas declared it an official state holiday. Texas was the first, but 46 more stated now count Juneteenth as a state holiday or a day of observance.