Back to top

Why Is Juneteenth in June?

Why Is Juneteenth in June?

June 8, 2022

I took a lot of U.S. History classes during my school days. We always started with Columbus and then tried to get through the next 500 years in about nine months. As a result, we sped through a lot of history, which ended up leaving some misconceptions about certain topics.

For example, for years I thought that the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 ended slavery in the United States. This is something that many believe. Lessons in school about the Civil War primarily focused on the battles or the Gettysburg Address. Everything else, especially regarding slavery, was only lightly covered.

While the proclamation did declare slaves of the breakaway Confederate States free, enslaved individuals continued to be held legally in the Union-backing border states of Delaware and Kentucky. It wasn’t until the ratification of the 13th Amendment, in December of 1865, that the practice of slavery was officially abolished.

On Sunday (June 19), we will observe Juneteenth, which celebrates the ending of slavery. But wait…if slavery was officially abolished in December, why are we celebrating in June? In the 1860s, information traveled very slowly, especially if there was no telegraph office nearby. Even when a war was officially over, fighting could continue because some areas hadn’t gotten word yet that peace had broken out. This also meant that it took a while for some enslaved individuals to find out they were free.

On June 19, 1865, nearly two years after it was issued, the enslaved people of Texas finally learned of the Emancipation Proclamation. The good news was declared by Union General George Granger with the reading of General Order No. 3. The celebrations following the announcement began a tradition that has now been going strong for over 155 years—Juneteenth.

Despite the Juneteenth holiday having been around for so long, there are many who are still unfamiliar with its traditions and history. For those who wish to learn more about our newest federal holiday, below are some good titles to help you get started.

For Kids:

For Adults:

And if you would like a closer look at slavery, Black history, and the Civil War, don’t forget to check out MCPL’s wonderful online databases, including Slavery and Anti-Slavery, African-American History, Black Thought and Culture.

Happy Juneteenth!

Pamela M.
Antioch Branch

View All Blogs

Read Similar Blogs:
History
Holidays

Resources You May Also Like

American History

Learn about U.S. history through essays and more.
More Info

Black Thought and Culture

Browse the works of leading African American authors.
More Info

Civil War Service Reports of Union Army Generals

Access the Service Reports of Union Army generals.
More Info

Events You May Also Like

Happy Kwanzaa (MCPL360)

Sat, Dec 10 2022
10:00am - 10:45am Central
Virtual Event
Learn about the origin, music, and rich significance of Kwanzaa. Brother John will bring this intergenerational holiday family tradition to life! Registration is required.

Blogs You May Also Like

Online Resources for Native American History
Read More

Online Resources for Native American History

Now that you’ve finished up your turkey feast, and the football game is wrapped up, you might want to ta
6 Tips for Celebrating Family History Month
Read More

6 Tips for Celebrating Family History Month

Discovering your family history can enrich your life in many ways.
Picking the Brains of My Aunts
Read More

Picking the Brains of My Aunts

For many years, my mother’s four sisters lived in Des Moines, Iowa, their hometown.
Reads for Celebrating Kwanzaa
Read More

Reads for Celebrating Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa has begun!

Was this page helpful? Yes No