Juneteenth is one of America’s oldest holidays and is observed each year on June 19 to mark the official end of slavery in the US.
The day, which gets its name from combining June and 19, has long been celebrated by black Americans as a symbol of their long-awaited emancipation — but the story behind the holiday, and how Juneteenth got its meaning, starts 155 years ago Friday in Galveston, Texas.
What is the meaning and history behind Juneteenth?
On June 19, 1865, Union troops led by Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to break the news to the last remaining Confederate sympathizers that they’d lost the Civil War and all slaves must be freed.
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” the Union general read aloud to the residents of Galveston, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.