Actress Jasmine waters (R) and Anterior leverett (C) act out a scene about the lives of newly liberated slaves at the Atlanta History Center, Saturday during the center's Juneteenth Jubilee, June 17, 2017. Juneteenth is a celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer/Special to AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer/Special to AJC

5 facts about Juneteenth, which marks the last day of slavery 

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.

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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.  According to, Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, declaring  “on the first day of January . . . all p’ersons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free." 

The proclamation only to states that had seceded from the United States, leaving slavery to remain unchallenged in the border states, according to It would take nearly two-and-half years for Lincoln’s proclamation 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, 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.

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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. 

»RELATED: Quiz: Slavery in the U.S.

How are people honoring Juneteenth?

Parades, concerts and festivals will take place across the  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.

A group celebrates Juneteenth.

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