Many African Americans think of Juneteenth – which commemorates the public announcement of the end of slavery made by the Union Army on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Tex. – as a second Independence Day for the United States and the first real Independence Day for them. It has been celebrated by Black communities for generations and increasingly by several states over the past 40 years. In 2021, President Biden made it a federal holiday.
While America’s founding documents declared freedom for all, the country denied it to Black people and maintained their enslavement. A century later, that first “Juneteenth” announcement by Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger declared “an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property” for African Americans. They were finally free – or so they thought.