June 19, also known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day, is probably one of the most underrated dates in US history. But as calls for social justice grew in 2020, more people started educating themselves about racism and discovered that enslaved Black Americans weren’t freed after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Nope. Instead, the last enslaved Black Americans, who resided in Galveston, Texas, were freed two and a half years later on June 19, 1865. That date put an official end to traditional slavery in the US and it’s worth every bit of celebration.
Juneteenth isn’t just a historic moment for Black people, it’s a monumental date for all Americans. But despite its importance, every state except Hawaii, South Dakota, and North Dakota recognized it. While those areas figured out how to acknowledge the date, many citizens marched and signed petitions to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. On June 17, 2021, Joe Biden signed “Juneteenth National Independence Day” into law.
Regardless, Black Americans have been commemorating Juneteenth since 1866. Now, the rest of the country can finally recognize the holiday, too. If you’re happy that traditional slavery no longer exists and you’re looking for ways to join the celebration, here are some festivities taking place in major cities and online.