Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) is a holiday commemorating June 19th, 1865, the day on which slavery was effectively ended in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all enslaved people in the Confederacy, had taken effect two-and-a-half years beforehand, slaves in Texas still had not been freed. On June 19th, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to issue and enforce General Order Number 3, which stated that all slaves were free, and that freedmen would now work for wages instead of performing unpaid labor. Over 100 years later in 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday, and since then, all but three states have recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday or observance.
Thanks to Ron Brown, CEO of the Pennsylvania Juneteenth Coalition, for his generosity and time in sharing resources and research about Juneteenth.