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History behind Juneteenth, how and why it became a federal holiday

Juneteenth t-shirt
Posted at 6:04 PM, Jun 19, 2024

SOUTHERN COLORADO — Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday and may still be unfamiliar to some. With that in mind, here's a little history and context into how an why it was created.

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States and stems from an event in the immediate aftermath of the American Civil War.

On June 19, 1865, 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, which was part of the Confederacy. They announced that the more than 250,000 slaves in the state were now free.

The day came to be known as Juneteenth. Later that year, the 13th Amendment was ratified, which made emancipation national policy.

Since then, Juneteenth has been celebrated. The celebrations became more popular during the civil rights movement in the 1960's.

There was renewed national attention and new momentum to make Juneteenth a federal holiday during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, officially making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Dr. Opal Lee is known as the 'grandmother of Juneteenth.' In April, she visited several schools in Colorado Springs.

'Grandmother of Juneteenth' shares holiday's history with local students

Last weekend, the Southern Colorado Juneteenth Festival returned to Colorado Springs for their fourth year.

Colorado Springs Juneteenth celebration

While Juneteenth is a day of celebration, a local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) group says more work needs to be done when it comes to equality across all races.

'The work still continues' local NAACP reaction to Juneteenth


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