Juneteenth | History & Legacy
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States.
However, the history of freedom in this country can be tangled, and this is no exception.
The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t end slavery. The end of the Civil War didn’t end slavery. But an order issued in Texas by a Union general on June 19, 1865, did. We call that day Juneteenth and we celebrate it every year. But this year isn’t like most years. This year we’ve seen weeks of protests against police brutality, systemic racism, and white supremacy, all sparked by the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, murders that seemed to jolt the world into realizing that while slavery may have ended in 1865, its legacy lives on.
From slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration, racism and state-sponsored, anti-Black and Brown violence have been a fact of life in America for 400 years. So this Juneteenth let’s celebrate and support this growing nationwide movement to wrestle openly and honestly with that history in a way that has never been done before.
As we buckle in and embark on this life-long [un]-learning process, take some time to educate yourself on the legacy of this holiday. Black History is American History.
See below for a few links and resources to learn about Juneteenth - the history, legacy, unknown facts, how to celebrate, and how we as white people can use this holiday to become a better ally. If videos are more your thing, scroll down for a few to start!
What is Juneteenth? 4 things you should know | PBS NewsHour
Watch the video as the Museum's Founding Director Lonnie Bunch III leads a tour through our Slavery and Freedom exhibition to celebrate #Juneteenth, highlighting stories behind some of our most popular objects, including Nat Turner's bible, freedom papers of free African Americans and a Sibley tent that housed African Americans who ran from Southern plantations in search of freedom with the Union army.