Juneteenth (also known as Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, and Liberation Day) is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of individuals enslaved in the United States. The holiday, named for a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, originated in Galveston, Texas. The holiday commemorates the day in 1865 when General Order No. 3 was issued by Gen. Gordon Granger of the U.S. Army, proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas.
This order came almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which officially outlawed slavery in the United States. However, at the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, the United States was immersed in the Civil War and Texas was part of the Confederate States. After the Civil War ended Texas was the most remote of the slave states and there was little Union soldier presence to enforce the law after the Civil War ended on May 9, 1865, so many people were still held in chattel slavery until General Order No. 3 was made.
Juneteenth celebrations date back to 1866, starting in communities in Texas, and then spreading across the Southern United States. It is now a recognized holiday in forty-seven of the fifty states. Most Juneteenth celebrations are local events, and here in San Diego, the Cooper Family has hosted a local celebration for over 50 years. But, the holiday is becoming more official. This year Santa Clara County declared Juneteenth an official holiday, and county employees will receive a paid day off!