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What Is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth (celebrated on June 19th) commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day when Union army troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865.

The troops arrived to ensure that all enslaved black people were freed.

Juneteenth Freedom Day lesson plan

A Brief History of the Holiday

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect on January 1, 1863.

However, slaves in the Confederacy were not freed until the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 18, 1865. The next day, General Gordon Granger announced that all slaves in Texas were free by the order of President Lincoln.

The first Juneteenth celebration occurred on June 19, 1866. After that, the annual celebration spread throughout Texas and the surrounding states.

Interesting Facts About Juneteenth

  1. Juneteenth Has Had Many Names

While it is known today as Juneteenth (a shortened form of June Nineteenth), it has had many names in the past. Juneteenth is also called Emancipation Day, Second Independence Day, Freedom Day, and Jubilee Day.

2. Texas Was the First State to Declare Juneteenth a State Holiday

Even today, Juneteenth is typically celebrated most in Texas. It has been an official holiday in the Lone Star State since 1980.

3. A Park Was Bought to Celebrate This Holiday

In 1872, four former slaves — Richard Allen, Elias Dibble, Richard Brock, and Jack Yates — bought a 10-acre piece of land. This piece of land is now known as, Emancipation Park. The park is located in Houston, Texas. The owners of this land purchased it in celebration of Juneteenth.

4. Juneteenth Celebrations Were Revived During the Civil Rights Movement

During the Great Depression, the celebration of Juneteenth declined as families could not take time off to celebrate. But this changed when, in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. organized the Poor People’s Campaign. MLK Jr. purposely coordinated this data with the freedom celebrations of Juneteenth and revitalized the holiday.

5. Juneteenth Becomes a National Holiday

On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation establishing June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day. This holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. This legislation made Juneteenth the first federal holiday approved since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

6. The Juneteenth Flag Is More than Just a Pretty Design

The Juneteenth flag, designed by L.J. Graf, features a bursting star in the center, blue on top, and red in the lower region of the flag. The center star refers to Texas, and the bursting symbolizes the new freedom that emancipated slaves gained on this day.

Juneteenth Flag

Free Juneteenth Lesson Plan

One of the best ways to celebrate Juneteenth is to learn about it. Many children go through years of school without ever hearing about the holiday or its history. At Learn Bright, we believe in providing children with a comprehensive education. Because of this, we have designed a free lesson plan to help you teach your students about Juneteenth.

It may also be beneficial to check out our free lesson plans on the Civil War, Slavery, and the Emancipation Proclamation.