“Juneteenth” or June 19th is one of three important times each summer to the Black community. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring that “all persons held as slaves…are declared free.” But it didn’t happen that way.

It was the third year of a bloody, Civil War and part of what was at stake was the outcome of that war in territories in the west, especially in Texas. Would Texas be won from Mexico and become a state in the United States? More importantly, would it become a slave holding state or would it be declared a free state? On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Grainger landed in Galveston, Texas, with the news that the Civil War was over and that all enslaved people were now free! The landing of this regiment meant that there were finally enough Union troops to hold in place, President Lincoln’s Executive Order of emancipation. The decision was made and “Juneteenth” became the oldest, nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.