June 19th marks the official end of slavery in the United States. On June 19th, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to free all enslaved people. This came two years after the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln; however, the enslaved were unaware of this proclamation. Not all enslaved people were instantly freed, as this proclamation only applied to places under Confederate control. For this reason, many slave owners moved to areas under Union control. When June 19th came and the troops arrived in Texas, Texas’ 250,000 slaves were finally free.
Today, June 19th is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery. Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday, celebrating with parades and public ceremonies. As racial injustices remain extremely prevalent today, it is now more important than ever to celebrate this historical landmark, as we continue to fight for equality and racial justice.
Juneteenth marks a day of liberation and resilience, it is a time to acknowledge that the oppression Black people experience is not something we empathize with, but rather something white people need to actively combat. Use this time to educate yourselves and the people around you about the historical injustices faced by Black Americans, and to understand that systemic racism is still prevalent today. It’s important to remember where we have been as a country in order to create a better future.