Skip to main content

As a part of our department’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, we’re proud to recognize and celebrate Juneteenth as a federal and state holiday on June 19.

What is the History of Juneteenth?

Susanna Lee, an associate professor of history at NC State whose work focuses largely on the Civil War and Reconstruction, wrote a blog post about the history of Juneteenth. An excerpt is below:

“The arrival of Union troops in Galveston, Texas, in June 1865 put into effect, in the furthest reaches of the Confederacy, President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued two and a half years earlier,” Lee wrote. “On June 19, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued an order declaring a potentially revolutionary change, one that threatened the long tradition of white supremacy in the South. General Orders No. 3 declared: ‘all slaves are free.’ June 19 is today celebrated as Juneteenth, or Emancipation Day.”

Juneteenth Timeline

1867: The first major Juneteenth celebration took place in Austin, Texas.

1872: The Juneteenth holiday was added to a calendar of public events, and Black leaders in Texas bought 10 acres of land to celebrate. This land in Houston is now Emancipation Park.

1980: Texas became the first state to name Juneteenth as an official state holiday. Juneteenth had informally been celebrated in Black communities for nearly 100 years before it became an official holiday.

2021: The United States Senate declared Juneteenth a federal holiday. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper also proclaimed June 19 as “Juneteenth Day.”

2022: Cooper allowed thousands of state workers under the executive branch to get a paid day off for Juneteenth, or another day of their choosing that recognizes “cultural, religious or personal significance,” through an executive order.

Read more about Juneteenth and how North Carolina recognizes the holiday: