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June 14, 2005 > Juneteenth: African American Emancipation

Juneteenth: African American Emancipation

by Susana Nuñez

Dating back to 1865, Juneteenth (June 19) is the oldest national celebration commemorating the end of sanctioned slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865 Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed in Galveston, Texas and announced the end of the Civil War and freedom for slaves.

This declaration was two and half years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which had become "official" on January 1, 1863. However, that document had no effect in Texas due to the small number of Union troops present to enforce the order. However, General Lee's surrender in April 1865, along with the arrival of General Granger's regiment, finally gave the Union enough troops to overcome intransigent individuals.

Juneteenth is celebrated nationwide to remind and educate the successive generations of past transgressions and their lessons for the future. Participants unite promote freedom for all irrespective of race, color or creed. Juneteenth promotes an appreciation of diversity and encourages self-improvement and respect for everyone.

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