Though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, many slaves were not immediately freed due to resistance by slave owners in the Confederate states. On June 19th, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to enforce emancipation. General Gordon Granger read General Order No. 3, which read:
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
The holiday has been celebrated as Juneteenth ever since.
Modern-day Juneteenth celebrations often include a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, performances of traditional African-American song and dance, and family activities.
Happy Juneteenth from all of us at Word!