What Is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, TX in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people in Texas were free. Troops did not arrive until two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation!
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of both the Civil War and slavery.
General Order Number 3 states:
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 at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
How Did Juneteenth Become a Holiday?
June 19 was celebrated by Black communities in Texas. As Black Texans moved to other states, they brought Juneteenth with them. Other names for Juneteenth are Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day. Texas was the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday in 1980. Session Law for Emancipation Day in Texas.
On February 25, 2021, H.R. 1320 and S. 475 were both introduced to establish Juneteenth as a federal holiday. S. 475 was signed into law on June 17, 2021 and Juneteenth National Independence Day became a Federal holiday. All 50 states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as a holiday or observance, and many states have designated Juneteenth as a legal holiday.
In 2006, Ohio had previously enacted legislation declaring September 22 as Emancipation Day, in honor of the anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862. In 2021, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §5.2247 became effective, designating June 19 as Juneteenth. In 2021, the University of Cincinnati also recognized Juneteenth as a new university holiday and Cincinnati City Council passed a resolution making Juneteenth a holiday on June 15, 2022.
Selected Resources to Learn More about Juneteenth
A virtual exhibit providing access to historical records, resources, activities, and more.
Films on Demand: Celebrating Juneteenth (requires UC authentication)
Films On Demand is a web-based digital video delivery platform that allows viewing of streaming videos from Films Media Group. This collection features films related to Juneteenth.
Blog posts from the Library of Congress discussing Juneteenth.
A video series exploring the history of the Juneteenth holiday and celebrating black culture and art.
More programs and documentaries that explore the Black experience in the U.S.
A 2022 blog post from UC Libraries containing a short list of items located in UC Libraries about Juneteenth.
Juneteenth Cincinnati has produced the annual Juneteenth Festival since 1988. It began in Daniel Drake Park in Kennedy Heights and moved in the early 1990’s to Eden Park in partnership with the Cincinnati Park Board. Juneteenth Cincinnati is dedicated to recognizing enslavement, emancipation, reconstruction, and all that followed as an integral part of America n history.