Understanding history of Juneteenth; federal holiday since 2021

The federal holiday Juneteenth will be celebrated on June 19. The holiday observes the date "the people of Texas were informed all slaves are free."

"It's a dark side of history. It's American history," said Tommie Boudreaux, who is with the Galveston Historical Foundation.

Two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emanicipation Proclamation, Union General Gordon Granger was given the command to enforce Lincoln's executive decree. 

On June 19, 1865, the general marched into Galveston – one of the last Confederate holdouts. General Granger then issued General Order No. 3 which advised slaveholders of the law and promised the freed "absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property."

The first Juneteenth was celebrated on Galveston Island -- combining the words "June" and "Nineteenth." The African American observance spread as former slaves moved across the south.

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Milwaukee held its first Juneteenth celebration in 1971. 

"The festival is a chance to bring everyone together," said Tony Kearney, Executive Director of the Northcott Neighborhood House.

Juneteenth recognizes the struggles of our past and looks with hope to the future.

Matthew Goss was crowned Mr. Juneteenth 2024. 

"One of my biggest hopes in life is just to be a light for people – young men, specifically," Goss said. 

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"It's a celebration, just having my peers around me," said Zoe Chambers, Ms. Juneteenth 2024.

Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021 after decades of lobbying to make it a national holiday.