Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday of notable significance for many African Americans. June 19, 1865, highlights the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas, marking a historic moment in American history and the culmination of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that was written three years prior (the African Americans pictured were celebrating Juneteenth in the year 1900). Texas was resistant to the emancipation of slaves, but a military operation led by Union troops caused the end of slavery in the Lone Star state.
Celebrated in more than 40 states as a holiday, the cultural impact of Juneteenth is a resonant reminder of the country’s ugly past regarding the enslavement of Blacks. With the roots of the holiday starting in Texas, the coastal city of Galveston, which served as the theater for the Union’s seizure and possession of the state, still remains the central area where Juneteenth celebrations have continued for decades. Similar celebrations have sprouted throughout the state — and across the country, where celebrants use the day as an opportunity to reflect on the rich history and contribution of African Americans to the fabric of the country.