June 19 is the oldest National Holiday commemorating Emancipation from slavery in the United States. Black communities across the country have celebrated Juneteenth, and now is a holiday observed in 47 states. Juneteenth celebrates black freedom and recognizes the ongoing struggle against the systematic racism that persists in America today. That day became known as Juneteenth, a day to reconnect with lost family members and define values of racial equality and empowerment for future generations. Black people held readings of the emancipation proclamations, preached religious sermons, and sang spirituals, prepared, and shared meals, and developed New family traditions. While the emancipation proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, it was not until two years later, June 19, 1865, that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally learned they were free. The Holiday's 155- year holds a lot of meaning in the fight for black liberations today. Over time, Juneteenth has been called Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, June In the late 1970s, the Texas Legislature declared Juneteenth a "holiday of significance [...] particularly to the blacks of Texas". It was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday under legislation introduced by freshman Democratic state representative Al Edwards. The law passed through the Texas Legislature in 1979 and was officially made a state holiday on January 1, 1980. Juneteenth is a "partial staffing" holiday in Texas; government offices do not close, but agencies may operate with reduced staff, and employees may either celebrate this Holiday or substitute it with one of four "optional holidays" recognized by Texas. In the late 1980s, there were significant celebrations of Juneteenth in California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.
In 1996, the first legislation to recognize "Juneteenth Independence Day" was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.J. Res. 195, sponsored by Barbara-Rose Collins (D-MI). In 1997 Congress recognized the day through Senate Joint Resolution 11 and House Joint Resolution 56. In 2013, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 175, acknowledging Lula Briggs Galloway (late president of the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage), who "successfully worked to bring national recognition to Juneteenth Independence Day", and the continued leadership of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.
Activists are pushing Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday. Organizations such as the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation seek a Congressional designation of Juneteenth as a national day of observance.
In 2020, state governors of Virginia and New York signed an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a paid day of leave for state employees. teenth National Freedom Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day.
Despite the many names, the day has faced competition from other emancipation holiday has been mostly unknown to many Americans until this year.