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Residents of Riverbank celebrated the national holiday Juneteenth with music and vendors at the Community Center in the downtown area this past week.

The celebratory event was held between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19. That date was selected as, officially, Juneteenth National Independence Day, first recognized as a federal holiday in 2021. It was the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted in 1983.

Juneteenth is a portmanteau of the words “June” and “nineteenth”. On June 19, 1865, a Union Calvary General ordered the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas, at the end of the Civil War.

Although officials say this date commemorates enslaved people learning of their freedom under the proclamation, it only applied to former Confederate states. There remained legally enslaved people in states that never seceded from the Union. These people did not gain their freedom until the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, on Dec. 6, 1865.

The festivities to commemorate the holiday in Riverbank drew attendees to peruse the many booths set up outside as well as enjoy music inside the Community Center.