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Today, June 19, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth marks the implementation of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years after its issuance, when “some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree.” (National Museum of African American History & Culture)

A significant milestone in the fight for African American freedom in the United States, Texas was the first state to designate Juneteenth as a holiday in 1980, and in 2021, President Joe Biden established it as a federal holiday.

According to the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day. Although it has long [been] celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans. The historical legacy of Juneteenth shows the value of never giving up home in uncertain times.” 

Many local celebrations and events will mark Juneteenth in Central Pennsylvania, including Young Professionals of Color, Greater Harrisburg #JuneteenthHBG. We encourage you to connect with resources and opportunities for learning and education to enhance your knowledge about this significant holiday that “acknowledges the African American spirit and pays tribute to the roles and contributions which have enriched our society.” (juneteenth.com)

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