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Juneteenth: The History of a Holiday

On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Texas were told they were free. A century and a half later, people across the United States continue to celebrate the day, which is now a federal holiday.

A Juneteenth celebration in Galveston, Texas, last year. The holiday traces its roots to the city.Credit...Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters

  • This article was originally published in 2020. It was updated in 2023.

Juneteenth, an annual commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States after the Civil War, has been celebrated by African Americans since the late 1800s.

President Biden signed legislation in 2021 that made Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, a federal holiday, after interest in the day was renewed during the summer of 2020 and the nationwide protests that followed the police killings of Black Americans including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

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