On June 19, 1865—150 years ago today—Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Tex. to announce that the Civil War was over and that slaves were free. President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years later, but the message only got to confederate-controlled Galveston with the arrival of Union troops in ’65. Since then, June 19 has been celebrated around the country as Juneteenth, a holiday of emancipation.
This year, the festival holds even more weight coming just a few days after the horrific shooting of nine people in a Charleston, S.C. church with its own deep ties to the freedom struggle. Juneteenth might not be as well known as other American holidays like the Fourth of July or Veterans Day, but especially in 2015, it deserves to be celebrated with food, friends, and reflection.
Check out Today in History for more on Juneteenth and other historical highlights.