Shannon Brady
Writer & Editor

Juneteenth has a long and complex history. In January 1863, in the middle of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which legally freed the 3.5 million African Americans enslaved in the southern Confederate States, which had seceded from the northern Union to continue keeping African Americans enslaved to use for labor. Under this law, any enslaved person who escaped and made it to Union lines would be free, and many braved the dangerous journey with the help of escape networks such as the Underground Railroad.

However, Southern slave owners did not relinquish their captives so easily. The legality of slavery was a major reason for the breakout of the Civil War, and it wasn’t until weeks after the end of the war that the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation was able to be carried out by Union troops in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. As such, African American communities across the nation celebrate the nineteenth of June as a “second Independence Day” and an anniversary of the end of slavery in America.

Check out our previous article on Juneteenth for more information on the holiday’s history and the further progress of activism towards racial equality in the United States.

Juneteenth became an official federal holiday in 2021, but large community celebrations have been going on since 1865, rising sharply in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. The day not only celebrates freedom, but African American history and culture as a whole, from food to arts and music to activism and more. In the New York City area, there are many such events, such as the Juneteenth NY Festival, which this year takes place from June 13-19.


Because Juneteenth is a federal holiday, you can expect schools, several businesses, and government buildings to be closed, and be prepared for possible road closures as a result of street fairs and other public celebrations.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us anytime at Stay safe and healthy!