The Meaning of Juneteenth: What It Is and How To Use It

This article provides all of the info you need on this holiday Juneteenth so that you can celebrate African-American freedom in history.

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What Does the Word Juneteenth Mean?

According to Britannica, Juneteenth is a federally recognized national holiday in America celebrated on June 19th. This holiday is also called Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, and Juneteenth Independence Day. This June 19th holiday marks the liberation of slaves in Texas. This is a very significant holiday in the Black community.

Donald Trump sparked controversy when his political campaign held a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19th, 2020. It was considered offensive that he would hold a rally in that location on that specific date.

This campaign rally was met with backlash, especially in the wake of recent police brutality and systemic racism incidents. Numerous different protests occurred during this period in time, and the Tulsa rally only ignited more controversy. 

This day is very important for the Black community. While the end of slavery did not solve all of the issues of systemic racism that Black people and other people of color experience, it was a monumental day in history.

This holiday is often celebrated by having picnics and religious services, as well as other gatherings and festivals. Juneteenth only recently became recognized as a federal holiday. 

The History Behind the Juneteenth Holiday

While President Abraham Lincoln passed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 during the Civil War, which freed more than three million slaves in the Confederate states, it took nearly two years for new to reach Texas. When Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, they learned that slavery was abolished. This happened on June 19, 1865.

The message read as such:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, ‘all slaves are free.’ 

This involves an absolute equality of personal rights [meaning that slaves could no longer be held against their will] and rights of property [meaning that former slaves could now own land] between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing [currently slave and master] between them becomes that between employer and hired labor [slaves must now be paid]

From then on, Juneteenth celebrations occurred in Texas. Celebrations include prayer and religious services, family gatherings and picnics, speeches, educational events,  and festivals with music, food, and dancing. Formerly enslaved persons quickly celebrated, and this became an annual celebration for African Americans/Black people living in America.

In the year 1980, Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas, and in 2021 it became a federal holiday. In the 1960s, the American Civil Rights movement did show a decline in Juneteenth celebrations. However, Martin Luther King, Jr., held a Juneteenth Solidarity Day in 1968 with the Poor People’s Campaign. This increased interest in Juneteenth again.

What Are Other African American Holidays and Black Holidays Worldwide?

Many different holidays are important to different cultures. No matter a person’s race or ethnicity, they will have holidays that are important to them.

Even if you yourself do not belong to a particular celebrating group, honoring everyone’s holidays is a wonderful way to spread support and allyship. It can help make other people feel included and welcome.

Below is a list of a few different African American holidays. Study this list and see how you can increase inclusivity in your life.  


One of the most famous African American holidays you might be familiar with is Kwanzaa. This celebration is held between December 26 and January 1. This week-long celebration honors people of Western African heritage.

The seven core principles of Kwanzaa are called Nguzo Saba, and Kwanzaa celebrations often feature feasts and giving gifts. 

Black Love Day

Black Love Day is celebrated on February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day. On this holiday, African Americans celebrate Black love in five different ways. They are supposed to show love to themselves, to the Creator or God, to their families, to the Black community, and the Black race. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Celebrated on the third Monday in January every year, this holiday celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King was a civil rights activist in America, and he made incredible strides for the Black community. This is now recognized as a federal holiday in the United States.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Many Black people and African Americans may celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This day is celebrated in place of Columbus Day and began in protest. This holiday celebrates the history of indigenous Americans. This holiday is set to coincide with Columbus Day annually and commemorates the history of Native Americans.

Tjungu Festival

Similar to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the Tjungu Festival celebrates indigenous culture in Australia. The word Tjungu means together in the indigenous Australian language Anangu. This celebration features film, art, culture, sports, music, fashion, and food from the indigenous culture.

Black History Month

Black History Month is another important African American holiday in the United States. Sometimes called National African American History Month, this holiday is celebrated in the month of February in the United States,and at other times around the world.

Black History Month began in 1976 and stems from a celebration called “Negro History Week” created by Carter G. Woodson.


Overall, the word Juneteenth refers to a federal holiday in America that celebrates the end of slavery. While this holiday began as something that was only celebrated within Black culture, it recently became recognized as a federal holiday. Are you going to celebrate this holiday this year?


  1. Juneteenth | History, Meaning, Flag, Importance, & Facts | Britannica
  2. Understanding America: The History and Meaning of Juneteenth | United States Department of State 
  3. Juneteenth, Explained | Vox 
  4. June: meaning, origin, translation | WordSense Dictionary