DIAMOND, Mo. — Yesterday was the federal holiday known as Juneteenth.
June 19th, or Juneteenth, became a federal holiday on June 18th in 2021. However, Juneteenth dates back to June 19th, 1865 – when Union soldiers announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery in the United States.
“So, it’s been going on for quite a while. I think there’s more recognition now since it became a federal holiday, which is a really good thing. But, this has been going on, um, this celebration, rejoicing of the ending of slavery for, as I said, about 156 years or so.” Curtis Gregory, Park Ranger, George Washington Carver National Monument.
Juneteenth is the oldest known national commemoration of the ending of slavery. This day has also been referred to as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day.
“This was issued about the last remaining enslaved individuals getting word that they were free, um, shortly after that, and probably in 1866 or so, these types of Juneteenth celebrations or Emancipation Day celebrations took place. So, it’s just the wording or terminology. Juneteenth, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day are really all the same day. And it all commemorates the ending of chattel slavery in the United States,” Gregory continued.
Juneteenth is celebrated today just as it was in 1866 when the celebrations first began.
“Cook outs, parades were huge, just the way of African Americans getting together and just celebrating and rejoicing the end of this horrible period in American History. Individuals received the word that they were now free. And so, really, starting the next year, in 1866 is when these types of celebrations would have, so Juneteenth is a combination of June and 19th, Juneteenth,” Gregory said.