Juneteenth in the United States

Juneteenth is an annual observance on June 19 to remember when Union soldiers enforced the Emancipation Proclamation and freed all remaining slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865. This day is an opportunity for people to celebrate freedom and equal rights in the United States.

Juneteenth celebrates equal rights and unity in the USA.
Juneteenth celebrates equal rights and unity in the USA.
©thinkstockphoto.com

What Do People Do?

A range of public, community and private events are held to celebrate Juneteenth, often on a weekend close to June 19. These include:

  • Baseball games.
  • Pot luck outdoor cookouts, barbecues or picnics.
  • Workplace lunches.
  • Rodeos.
  • Neighborhood or block parties.
  • Community flag raising ceremonies.
  • Juneteenth displays in city halls, libraries, schools and post offices.
  • Essay or artwork competitions for young people.
  • Presentations of community service awards.
  • The distribution of Juneteenth buttons, t-shirts, mugs and bags.

Some people also decorate conference rooms or corridors at their workplace, their neighborhood and yards with Juneteenth banners, yard signs and flags to raise awareness of the event.

Public Life

Juneteenth is a partial or full state holiday, or an official observance in at least 42 US states and the District of Columbia.

In some states, people employed by the state have a day off work. Stores, post offices and other organizations and businesses are likely to be open as usual, but some may be closed or have restricted opening hours in some areas. Many public transit services operate to their usual schedule, but there may be some changes. There may be some local disruption to traffic around large scale public events.

Background

Slavery in the United States can be traced back to the 16th century when Spanish explorers brought African slaves with them to the New World. It lasted until the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect on January 1, 1863. On that date Texas was largely controlled by forces fighting for the Confederate States, which opposed the abolition of slavery. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived to take control of Texas and enforce the emancipation of slaves in the state. In Galveston, Texas, the newly freed slaves held large public celebrations and so laid the base for future Juneteenth activities. The word 'Juneteenth' resulted from the words 'June Nineteenth' being slurred together in speech.

After 1865, Juneteenth was mainly celebrated in Texas. Parks have been established on land bought by former slaves to hold Juneteenth celebrations in the Texan cities of Austin, Houston and Mexia. However, it is now a state holiday or observance in more than half of the US states and there is a campaign for Juneteenth to become a national holiday or observance throughout the nation.  Juneteenth celebrations are also held in other countries around the world, including Ghana, Honduras, Japan, Taiwan and Trinidad and Tobago.

Symbols

The Juneteenth flag consists of a rectangle. The lower part of the rectangle is red and the upper part is blue and it has a solid white, five-pointed star at its center. The star is surrounded by a white outline of a 12-pointed star. The Juneteenth flag is often displayed with the United States flag to symbolize that slavery is illegal.

In Texas and some other southern states, the traditional drink on Juneteenth is Big Red soda. This variety of cream soda is a sweet, soft drink flavored with orange and lemon oils and vanilla. It is available in different flavors and with or without caffeine and sugar.

Juneteenth Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday TypeWhere It is Observed
SatJun 192010JuneteenthLocal observanceAll except Am. Samoa, AZ, HI, MD, MP, MT, ND, NH, SD, TX, UT, Virg. Is.
SatJun 192010Emancipation DayState holidayTexas
SunJun 192011JuneteenthLocal observanceAll except Am. Samoa, AZ, HI, MD, MP, MT, ND, NH, SD, TX, UT, Virg. Is.
SunJun 192011Emancipation DayState holidayTexas
TueJun 192012JuneteenthLocal observanceAll except Am. Samoa, AZ, HI, MD, MP, MT, ND, NH, SD, TX, UT, Virg. Is.
TueJun 192012Emancipation DayState holidayTexas
WedJun 192013JuneteenthLocal observanceAll except Am. Samoa, AZ, HI, MD, MP, MT, ND, NH, SD, TX, UT, Virg. Is.
WedJun 192013Emancipation DayState holidayTexas
ThuJun 192014JuneteenthLocal observanceAll except Am. Samoa, AZ, HI, MD, MP, MT, ND, NH, SD, TX, UT, Virg. Is.
ThuJun 192014Emancipation DayState holidayTexas
FriJun 192015JuneteenthLocal observanceAll except Am. Samoa, AZ, HI, MD, MP, MT, ND, NH, SD, TX, UT, Virg. Is.
FriJun 192015Emancipation DayState holidayTexas
SunJun 192016JuneteenthLocal observanceAll except Am. Samoa, AZ, HI, MD, MP, MT, ND, NH, SD, TX, UT, Virg. Is.
SunJun 192016Emancipation DayState holidayTexas
MonJun 192017JuneteenthLocal observanceAll except Am. Samoa, AZ, HI, MD, MP, MT, ND, NH, SD, TX, UT, Virg. Is.
MonJun 192017Emancipation DayState holidayTexas
TueJun 192018JuneteenthLocal observanceAll except Am. Samoa, AZ, HI, MD, MP, MT, ND, NH, SD, TX, UT, Virg. Is.
TueJun 192018Emancipation DayState holidayTexas
WedJun 192019JuneteenthLocal observanceAll except Am. Samoa, AZ, HI, MD, MP, MT, ND, NH, SD, TX, UT, Virg. Is.
WedJun 192019Emancipation DayState holidayTexas
FriJun 192020JuneteenthLocal observanceAll except Am. Samoa, AZ, HI, MD, MP, MT, ND, NH, SD, TX, UT, Virg. Is.
FriJun 192020Emancipation DayState holidayTexas

Quick Facts

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day and Emancipation Day, is a holiday or observance in many US states to celebrate the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865.

Juneteenth 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016 (local in All except American Samoa, Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virgin Islands)
Sunday, June 19, 2016 (local in Texas)

Juneteenth 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017 (local in All except American Samoa, Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virgin Islands)
Monday, June 19, 2017 (local in Texas)

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Name in other languages

NameLanguage
JuneteenthEnglish
Día de JuneteenthSpanish
יום עצמאות יוני 19Hebrew
19 يونيو عيد الاستقلالArabic
6월 19일 독립 기념일Korean
JuneteenthNorwegian
JuneteenthGerman

List of dates for other years

Related holiday

Other holidays in June 2016 in the United States

Fun Holiday on June 19, 2016

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