Juneteenth: Health Equity | BetterHelp

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated June 14, 2022

What Is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, honors the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States in the month of June. The holiday’s history began in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. In that year, the Civil War Union General Gordon Granger, arrived with Union troops to free the people living in slavery in the Texas town, two years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, enacted by Abraham Lincoln, declared that all slaves, or enslaved peoples, inside and outside Union lines be freed.

Though many have recognized Juneteenth in Texas and around the country since 1866, it was not officially declared a holiday on the federal calendar until June 17th, 2021. This year, the holiday falls on June 20th, which is a Monday in June. Its long path to one of the national dates of celebration in June that has been fraught with advocacy against the holiday’s ignorance and is still a hot topic, outside of Texas, even today. 

Juneteenth

A Brief History

Before we dive into Juneteenth, let’s revisit the end of slavery in Texas, the state where June 19 and its subsequent recognition began. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln in 1863 during the Civil War, however, it did not immediately free all enslaved people; in fact, the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to enslaved people that were residing in states under confederate control. Once the war was over, however, both states within Union lines and the former confederacy were required to allow former enslaved people their freedom. In the state of Texas specifically, slavery remained legal until the arrival of General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. 

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A Juneteenth learning experience in New Orleans

A Juneteenth learning experience in New Orleans

In a country that prides itself on being the “land of the free,” this is just one of our many social differences and falsities, another one of which is, notably, right around the corner: On the 4th of July, Juneteenth is celebrated to honor the day enslaved African Americans in Texas found out they were free two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. I would learn that some black people thought the 4th of July meant freedom for all people, but this was not the case. July 4th is to celebrate when America declared independence from the British in 1776. Frederick Douglass would pen, “This Fourth is yours, not mine.”

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