JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- June 19, is a day commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, also known as Juneteenth. 152 years ago today in 1865 Union Soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas with news that the civil war had ended and those enslaved were free. This happened two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation which had little impact in Texas due to a lack of enforcement.
Reaction to the news of those enslaved finally being free was mixed, most were simply in shock. Many celebrated that day and the festivities of June 19 became known as Juneteenth. The word Juneteenth was the result of the words June 19th being slurred together in speech.
Today many of the activities to celebrate continue in tradition. Barbecues, elders are called to speak about events of the past and prayer services are held. The focus is on education and self-improvement. By January 1, 1980 Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas. It's now recognized as a state holiday or through observance in more than half of U.S. states. Communities and organizations throughout the country organize events to celebrate June 19, 1865. It's a day to celebrate freedom and equal rights in the U.S
Juneteenth is also celebrated around the world in places like Ghana, Japan and Trinidad and Tobago.