Juneteenth: What you need to know
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Juneteenth — short for June 19 — effectively marked the end of slavery in the United States in 1865.
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For 155 years, the date has commemorated the moment when Union soldiers marched into Galveston, Texas, to tell slaves that the Civil War had ended and that they were free. It is now widely seen as the longest-running national celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, with 46 states and the District of Columbia officially recognizing the day as a state holiday or day of recognition.
It has yet to be declared a federal holiday, although the push for it to become one is gaining traction within the Capitol. In 2018, a resolution recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday passed the Senate, although the accompanying resolution has not been approved in the House.
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This year, however, the celebration comes amid a nationwide movement for racial justice that has been re-energized by the death of George Floyd, a black man in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd's death shed light on the issues of systemic racism and injustice that remain present in the United States.
Like years past, celebrations spanning across the country — including parades and readings of the Emancipation Proclamation – are expected to continue with some major companies and even the NFL moving to declare it a paid company holiday.
On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, notifying the rebel states in the Confederacy that if they did not cease fighting and re-join the union by January 1 then all slaves in the rebellious states would be free.
By January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the formal Emancipation Proclamation declaring all slaves be free in Confederate territory. The executive order stated that "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free," the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
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