The Juneteenth Banner with red, black, and green bars of the Pan-African Flag


The Juneteenth celebrations are held each year on June 19 to celebrate the emancipation of Afro-American enslaved people in the United States after the American Civil War. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862 effective January 1, 1863 which freed all enslaved peoples in the Confederate States of America. Since there were no means in 1863 to enforce this proclamation in the Confederate States, the freedom of the slaves did not occur until after the Civil War in many locations. Texas being distant and more isolated from the Union troops did not enforce the Proclamation until Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas along with 2,000 Union troops. On Monday, June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 which stated:

“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 and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Copy of the original General Order Number 3

General Orders, No. 3. U.S. House, 54th Congress, 1st Session (H. Doc. 369, Part 2).
“General Order Number 3,” 1896. U.S. Documents Collection. Y 1.1/2: SERIAL 3437;
Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Though the Juneteenth celebration is often described as the celebration of the end of slavery, it was not until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution proclaimed on December 18, 1865 that slavery was abolished throughout the country as the Emancipation Proclamation did not free enslaved peoples in border or Union states, only in the Confederate States.

Juneteenth, a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth”, also called Freedom Day and Jubilee Day among other names, is often a celebration centered on food, rodeos, barbecuing, baseball, street fairs, fishing, and family gatherings along with educational and historical components and was The Juneteenth Flag with a star in the middle, a burst symbol around it, an arc for the horizon in colors of red, white, and bluefirst celebrated in 1866. The number of people observing the holiday has grown and ebbed over the last 150 years with an increase in observance over the last several decades with more cities and states now officially recognizing the holiday with Texas being the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday on January 1, 1980. In 1996, the holiday, Juneteenth Independence Day was recognized in the House of Representatives via Resolution 195 which was sponsored by Representative Barbara-Rose Collins (D-MI). On Tuesday, June 15, 2021 the Senate passed a resolution establishing June 19 as the US holiday “Juneteenth National Independence Day”. The next day, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, the House of Representatives the passed the same resolution, and on Thursday, June 17, 2021 President Biden the legislation into law.

Image: Juneteenth Flag, Public Domain Image by Nafsadh-Own work, CC0; Wikipedia: Juneteenth

Learn More!

The Juneteenth Flag
The Juneteenth Flag was created in 1997 by Ben Haith (founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation), other collaborators, and illustrator Lisa Jeanne Graf, and revised in 2000. In 2007, the The Juneteenth Flag with a star in the middle, a burst symbol around it, an arc for the horizon in colors of red, white, and bluedate “June 19, 1865” was added to the flag. The red, white, and blue colors align with the American Flag and reminds everyone that African American slaves and their descendants are American citizens. The arc across the middle of the flag represents the horizon and the new opportunities that await in the future. The solid white star represents both the Lone Star state of Texas where Juneteenth was born and the freedom for all African Americans throughout the 50 states. Finally, the outer star burst called a nova represents the birth of a new beginning for African Americans.

Image: Juneteenth Flag, Public Domain Image
by Nafsadh-Own work, CC0; Wikipedia: Juneteenth

Juneteenth Local Events

Kujichagulia Madison Center for Self-Determination
32nd Annual Outdoor Juneteenth Celebration Wednesday, June 16-Saturday, June 19, 2021 in Penn Park

  • Wednesday, June 16: Rise Up to Reach Back (Online Event for Youth) || Information
    Precollege/College Fair 12:00pm–4:00pm || Registration
    Look to the Future 4:30pm–6:00pm || Registration
    Youth Motivational Speaker Presentation 6:00pm–7:00pm || Registration
  • Thursday, June 17: Our Voices Matter (Online Event)
    Voting, Social Injustice & The Power of Black Voices 6:00pm-7:30pm || Information || Registration
    Spoken Word & Open Mic 7:30pm–9:00pm (Young Adults 18+) || Information || Registration
  • Friday June 18: Feed Our Bellies Feed Our Soul (Online Event) Celebration of Black Resilience
    Legacy & Social Determinants of Health, Transitioning into a New Normal 12:00pm–2:00pm
    Welcome to Juneteenth, Community Prayer & Convocation 5:00pm–6:00pm
    Our Family Dinner 6:00pm–8:00pm Information || Registration

    Online Health Panels Programs 12:00pm–2:00pm
    Reclaiming the Narrative – How Black Americans are Leading Precision Medicine
    Kumichagulia – Madison Center for Self Determination is partnering with the UW Carbone Cancer Center
    to host virtual health panel programming as part of their Juneteenth celebration || Information || Registration

    Kitchen Chemist || Information || Registration

  • Saturday, June 19 (In-Person Event) || Information || Registration
    Parade Set-up 10:00am–11:00am
    Parade 11:00am–12:00pm
    Celebration in the Park 12:00pm–4:00pm

American Family (AmFam) Dreambank

  • Wednesday, June 16, 2021 4:00-5:00pm (online) The Promise of Freedom || More Information/Registration
    Dr. Charles Taylor, author, speaker and diversity expert, is one of the leading voices in diversity education today
  • Thursday, June 17, 2021 6:00-7:00pm (online) The Experience in Their Eyes/Registration
    Panelists: Yvette Craig, Publisher and Editor of UMOJA Magazine
    Debbie Biddle, Founder of The People Company
    Percy Brown Jr., Director of Equity and Student Achievement for the Middleton Cross Plains Area School District, Senior Outreach Specialist for the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

YWCA Madison

  • Friday, June 18, 2021 4:00-6:00pm (online) Black Thought Wall (BTW) || More Information || 2210 S. Park St, Madison, WI
    “Alicia Walters, founder of the Black Thought Project, is co-creating this interactive community art installation as a restorative space that centers, celebrates, and stewards Black expression, thought, joy and sacredness.”

Freedom Inc.

#IssaUsThing Juneteenth Celebration