Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival in Galveston of a Union regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
From its Galveston origin in 1865, the observance of June 19 as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.