News + Events

Honoring Juneteenth

Juneteenth Marks the Abolishment of Slavery in the US

Juneteenth is the oldest celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The June 19th holiday may seem new to some, but it’s long been celebrated in parts of the US and internationally.

History of Juneteenth

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery in the US in 1863 but that did not translate to change on the ground since there were few Union troops to enforce the executive order. In the state of Texas, it was not until two years later- June 19, 1865 -that a Union regiment arrived in Galveston to share the news that the war had ended and people who were enslaved were now free because of the Emancipation Proclamation.

National Recognition and Opportunity for Reflection

Juneteenth activities, traditionally celebrations around food and community, have waxed and waned over the years. It has taken time for Juneteenth to gain recognition outside the state of Texas and the African American community. It was not until 1980 that Texas recognized the date as an official holiday, due to the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. Today, Juneteenth is widely recognized and in 2021 was made a Federal Holiday. Unity House proudly recognizes Juneteenth, closing our business sites, childcare centers, and public spaces in observance of Juneteenth.

Celebrating Juneteenth

Traditionally, Juneteenth is celebrated outdoors, with barbecues and other summertime activities. There has often been an educational component, with speakers, traditionally elders. It’s important to note that early celebrations were not possible on public lands and it took time for African Americans to become landowners. Often early celebrations were in rural areas.

Learning More

There is a wealth of information on Juneteenth, its origin and evolution and how today Juneteenth is culturally significant symbol of freedom and resilience. Be sure to check out sources and learn about events happening in the community.