Today is Juneteenth, the anniversary of the 1865 announcement that the United States had ended the practice of slavery. The holiday is considered “the longest running African-American holiday”.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Though the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in 1863, it took over two years for word to reach places like Texas. Union General Gordon Granger read the federal order in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, effectively telling the story of liberation for African Americans in our country.
Some businesses that would be closed on a national holiday, like banks (example, SunTrust will close its locations at 2 p.m. today) will treat Juneteenth — a mashup of the date “June Nineteenth” — as such and not open or close early.
Since the 1980s and 1990s, the holiday has been more widely celebrated among African-American communities. Organizations such as the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation are seeking a Congressional designation of Juneteenth as a national day of observance. Forty-eight of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or ceremonial holiday, a day of observance (Hawaii and South Dakota do not).