A Brief History: Juneteenth is an American holiday celebrated in honor of the legal abolishment of slavery, specifically in Texas in 1865, and the emancipation of African American citizens throughout the United States. “Juneteenth,” a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteen,” is celebrated on June 19 and is also known as “Emancipation Day” or “Freedom Day.” It is considered to be the oldest commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. 

During the Civil War, on September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that enslaved African Americans were to be freed in the Confederate States of America, effective January 1, 1863. However, the Confederacy had already seceded from the United States, and with a relatively small number of Union troops charged to enforce the new Executive Order, the declaration had minimal effect in enactment and enforcement.

Confederate states, including Texas, refused to comply with the Emancipation Proclamation but with the surrender of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee to Union Army Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, and with the arrival of Major General Gordon Granger’s regiment of Union soldiers, the United States was at last powerful enough to influence and overcome Southern resistance.

On June 18, 1865, Major General Granger, leading two thousand federal troops on behalf of the Union, landed on the island of Galveston, Texas for the following purposes: to inform residents that the Civil War had ended, with the Union being victorious; take possession of Texas; and enforce the freedom of those held in perpetual bondage.


DML welcomes the African American Visual Artists Guild, opens a new window (AAVAG) to Artists Talk at Bassani Theater, opens a new window on Thursday, June 13, from 6 - 8:30 pm, featuring artists Nathan Connor, Andrea Cummings, Clarice More, and Cedric McGhee. All ages are welcome.

Moderated by Karen D. Brame of DML's Special Collections, AAVAG artists will discuss their work in a new traveling exhibit titled "What's New?" that is on display in the Main Library, opens a new window's Second Floor Gallery through Thursday, June 30.

Check out additional Juneteenth, opens a new window programs.


Can't make it to a program? Learn a bit more about this commemorative day with the ease of a free Library card, opens a new window, a tech device, and the free Libby app, opens a new window!

Here's what Libby recommends for all ages on the subject of Juneteenth, opens a new window.

DML databases, opens a new window also offer a wide variety of tools one can use to research Juneteenth and African American history.

Try African American Heritage, opens a new window, by ProQuest, for example. Search document collections and historical records for free. All you need is a Library card!