The “proclamation” was the Emancipation Proclamation, and it was supposed to have
freed the South’s slaves on January 1, 1863, some 250,000 black Texans were still in chains
in 1865. Like many Southern states, Texas had refused to spread the news or enforce it,
leaving plenty of slaves in the dark about their own freedom for more than two years until
the Civil War ended in the spring of 1865.
When Union Army General Granger read the news, the last of Texas’ slaves now knew they
were free, with some even walking away toward freedom before Granger even finished his
speech. Countless black American have celebrated this event as the end of U.S.
slavery with a holiday known as Juneteenth.
From the history and meaning behind it to the celebrations held today, these are the most
important facts and stories about Juneteenth.