People across the US and beyond are celebrating a national day you may not have heard about.
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, is the day in 1865 when slavery was abolished in Texas – two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
On the day itself, union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived into Galveston, Texas to announce the end of the civil war and that the state’s 250,000 slave were officially free.
#OTD in 1865, enslaved African Americans were notified of their freedom by Union troops in Galveston Bay, TX. Known as #Juneteenth, this day is widely celebrated as the end of chattel slavery in the U.S. Learn more: https://t.co/nEPJrDMRXU #APeoplesJourney #ANationsStory pic.twitter.com/YY2yiG8Lzs— Smithsonian NMAAHC (@NMAAHC) June 19, 2018
With the end of slavery came new challenges. The period after emancipation, known as Reconstruction, saw families struggling to reunite, create communities with schooling, seek reparations and become involved with local and national politics.
Although the day is not a national public holiday in the US, Texas has marked Juneteenth as an official state holiday since 1980.
The day is celebrated with parades, street parties and re-enactments as well as copious tweets and social media posts.
Politicians, public figures, organisations and ordinary people shared information about Juneteenth on their social media pages.
153 years ago today, the news of emancipation reached enslaved African Americans in Galveston, TX. #Juneteenth is a day of great hope – but also a time to recognize that the fight against systemic racism is far from over. Learn more about #FreedomDay ➡️ https://t.co/U1OI5hxxf7 pic.twitter.com/pEsemcYiba— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) June 19, 2018
Happy Junteenth Independence Day! Today we commemorate 153 years to the day when, Texas, the final state to do so, abolished slavery. #Juneteenth is recognized by many as a day to celebrate freedom and liberation of black people from slavery.— Amnesty International USA (@amnestyusa) June 19, 2018
#Juneteenth also recognizes the newly freed Black people, who upon gaining freedom, sought to find loved 1s like children, siblings, parents, spouses & friends. Many were unsuccessful & had to endure that pain for the rest of their lives.— Peter Darker (@IAmLeoGlaze) June 19, 2018
Some used the day to highlight the work still to be done to ensure equality for all in the country.
On #Juneteenth, we celebrate a historic moment, the abolition of slavery in the United States. Let’s honor it by continuing our relentless fight for equality by speaking out against oppression in all of its forms.— Mayor Lee Harris (@MayorLeeHarris) June 19, 2018
We will not accept anything short of real justice & freedom for all ppl targeted by mass criminalization. #FREEnewyork is building statewide power & demanding reform. Join us #juneteenth at statewide protests: https://t.co/d8KlTx7bsj #EndMoneyBail #DemandDueProcess @NYGovCuomo pic.twitter.com/TzymVMHeGe— KidsRising (@Kids_Rising) June 19, 2018
The NAACP highlighted families currently being separated on the country’s southern border as a new fight for justice and rights.