Juneteenth is an unofficial American holiday and an official Texas state holiday, celebrated annually on the 19th of June in the United States to commemorate the announcing of federal orders in Texas, on June 19, 1865, that all slaves in Texas were now free.
June 19 is celebrated as Juneteenth, the anniversary of the day in 1865 that Union forces announced in Texas that slaves were free, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
The holiday comes as companies are promising investors and employees they are working on tangible change to tackle systemic racism.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed them almost two and a half years earlier and the American Civil War had largely ended with the defeat of the Confederate States in April, Texas was the most remote of the slave states, with a low presence of Union troops, so enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent.
Slavery in the United States did not officially end until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States on December 6, 1865, which abolished slavery entirely in all of the U.S. states and territories.
Modern observance is primarily in local celebrations. Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs, and reading of works by noted African-American writers such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou.
Many companies are giving their employees a day off or a day of reflection.