On June 17, 2021, a bill was signed into law to recognize Juneteenth as the newest federal holiday in the United States. Juneteenth (which is a combination of “June” and “nineteenth”) honors the end to slavery in the United States. It marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed two and a half years prior by President Abraham Lincoln, it did little to instantly free any enslaved peoples. Individuals continued to be enslaved in the state of Texas.
Then, in the summer of 1865, U.S. General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and read a formal order stating, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” Throughout the state, celebrations broke out among the newly freed peoples, and Juneteenth was born. In December of 1865, slavery in the United States was formally abolished with the adoption of the 13th Amendment.
The following year, the first of what became the annual celebration of “Jubilee Day,” was held by the freedmen of Texas on June 19. In the decades that followed, Juneteenth commemorations have extended across the nation and are marked by music, community gatherings, prayer services and shared meals.
Bellevue Celebrations Mark the End of Slavery
On June 20, the City of Bellevue will hold its second annual Juneteenth celebration featuring a panel discussion, artist performances and reception. The event will take place at City Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. In addition, the City Council will recognize Juneteenth with a city proclamation and will fly the Juneteenth flag at city facilities June 19-30.