The Emancipation Proclamation, formally announced on January 1, 1863, was a significant milestone. But it did not end slavery in America. The end of legal slavery came with the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on December 6, 1865. June 19, 1865, was the official date that all enslaved people in America were officially set free. The day is celebrated throughout the nation as the true Independence Day of African Americans.
These are five things you should know about Juneteenth.
1. A General and 1800 Soldiers Delivered The Message
On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger sailed into Texas with 1,800 Union soldiers after the Civil War ended and announced: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
The news was greeted with shock, disbelief and triumphant joy by the 250,000 formerly enslaved people of Texas. Many celebrated their freedom with song and dance, while others celebrated by leaving the farms and plantations where they had been in bondage, some for generations.