Juneteenth is the oldest national commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Though the Emancipation Proclamation stated that all slaves were free as of Jan. 1, 1863, many enslaved African Americans only learned of their freedom on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended. Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American liberation and celebrates Black history and culture, both of which are appreciated and valued at Carolina.
There is an official flag flown during Juneteenth (pictured above). The flag, created in 1997 by activist Ben Haith, founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation and Boston-based illustrator Lisa Jeanne Graf, was morphed into the current version.
Learn more about Juneteenth here.
Events take place around our community, sponsored by UNC organizations and cities. Please visit your community calendar or our department events calendar for ideas on how to celebrate.
Learn about the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Juneteenth celebration here.
On Thursday, June 17, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. June 19th will now be officially recognized as a national day for the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.
Biden said that signing this into law was one of the greatest honors he will have as president, adding, “All Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history.”
The law went into effect immediately, with Friday as the first federal Juneteenth holiday because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year. Public schools are closed and federal employees observe the holiday.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who also signed the legislation in her capacity as the president of the Senate, said, “Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names: Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day. Emancipation Day. And today, a national holiday.”
News courtesy of Adrianne Gibilisco, University Office for Diversity and Inclusion