Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It is also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. Although the Emancipation Proclamation came 2'/2 years earlier on January 1, 1863, many enslavers continued to hold enslaved Black people captive after the announcement, so Juneteenth became a symbolic date representing African American freedom.
Texans celebrated Juneteenth beginning in 1866 with community-centric events, such as parades, cookouts, prayer gatherings, historical and cultural readings, and musical performances. Over time, communities have developed their own traditions. Some communities purchased land for Juneteenth celebrations, such as Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. As families emigrated from Texas to other parts of the United States, they carried Juneteenth celebrations with them.
On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth officially became a Texas state holiday. Since then, 49 other states and the District of Columbia have also commemorated or recognized the day. Juneteenth officially became the 11th federal holiday on June 17, 2021, and Juneteenth National Independence Day is the first holiday to be added to the list of federal holidays since the recognition of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday in 1983. For additional information on the creation of the holiday see the Presidential Proclamation 10418 from the Federal Register and President Joe Biden's "Remarks at signing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act."
Text from the Juneteenth Fact Sheet, Congressional Research Service.