Today marks a pivotal point in American history. On June 19, 1865, the last slaves in Texas and more broadly the Confederate South were freed.
Nationally and in cities like Atlanta, the day has been celebrated with parades, plays and other festivities that honor the African-American culture that developed during and after slavery.
Here are 5 answers to some of the questions posed about Juneteenth:
Didn’t the Emancipation Proclamation end slavery years earlier?
Yes and No. Abraham Lincoln made slavery illegal with the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, which became federal law on Jan. 1, 1863. However, it took nearly two-and-half years for that message to be relayed to Texas.
How did Juneteenth begin?
On June 19, 1865, Major Gen. Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas, to inform a reluctant community that President Abraham Lincoln two years earlier had freed the slaves and to press locals to comply with his directive. On this day, Granger announced “General Order No. 3.”
Prior to Granger’s declaration, there was an estimated 250,000 slaves residing in Texas, according to historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
What caused the delay in Texans receiving this news?
Some have noted that Texas geographic isolation may have played a role in the delay. According to Juneteenth.com, some accounts place the delay on a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news, while others say the news was deliberately withheld.
Even with the order, slavery did not end in Texas overnight, according to a report by Gates. Many slave owners traveled to Texas with their slaves to escape regulations enforced by the Union Army in other states for some time.
Why is it called Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is a combination of "June" and "nineteenth," in honor of the day that Granger announced the abolition of slavery in Texas. The day is also called Freedom Day.
How are people honoring Juneteenth?
Parades, concerts and festivals will take place across country to keep the history of Juneteenth alive.
Some Twitter users have already begun to share tidbits about the day’s history and plans for the holiday online.