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Essential Reading: Celebrating Juneteenth

Black writers on the history and traditions of America’s newest national holiday and why it has always been one of the most important days on the calendar.

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Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, officially became a federal holiday in 2021 after President Biden signed a bill passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress. It commemorates June 19, 1865, when, more than a month after the last battle of the Civil War, Union soldiers brought news to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas that they were emancipated. The date has been celebrated by Black Americans ever since, first in Texas and eventually throughout the United States.

Read on to learn more about the history, traditions, and meaning of Juneteenth.