[ joon-teenth ]
/ ˈdʒunˈtinθ /
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June 19, a U.S. holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States and commemorating the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans, in Texas, on June 19, 1865.
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Official name June·teenth Na·tion·al In·de·pend·ence Day [joon-teenth-nash-uh-nl in-di-pen-duhns dey, nash-nuhl] /ˈdʒunˈtinθ ˈnæʃ ə nl ˌɪn dɪˈpɛn dəns ˌdeɪ, ˈnæʃ nəl/ . Also called E·man·ci·pa·tion Day [ih-man-suh-pey-shuhn dey], /ɪˌmæn səˈpeɪ ʃən ˌdeɪ/, Free·dom Day [free-duhm dey], /ˈfri dəm ˌdeɪ/, Ju·bi·lee Day [joo-buh-lee-dey,], /ˌdʒu bəˈli ˌdeɪ,/, Black In·de·pend·ence Day [blak-in-di-pen-duhns dey] /ˈblæk ˌɪn dɪˈpɛn dəns ˌdeɪ/ .

Origin of Juneteenth

First recorded in 1935–40; June + (nine)teenth

Words nearby Juneteenth

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is a U.S. holiday that commemorates the anniversary of the day (June 19, 1865) on which enslaved African Americans in Texas became some of the last enslaved people in the U.S. to be informed that slavery had been abolished.

Juneteenth is also often observed as a time to commemorate the end of chattel slavery in the U.S.

Observance of Juneteenth often involves celebratory events and gatherings, especially among African Americans. Observance of the day also often involves events and programs focused on education about and discussion of the legacy of slavery in the U.S., including the ongoing struggle to dismantle systemic racism in U.S. society.

Juneteenth was adopted as a U.S. federal holiday in 2021, officially called Juneteenth National Independence Day.

It is sometimes also called Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Black Independence Day.

Visit our article to learn more about how Juneteenth is observed and celebrated.

When is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth occurs on June 19 in commemoration of the events of June 19, 1865. When Juneteenth falls on a weekend, the holiday is sometimes observed on a different day.

In 2022, Juneteenth will be observed as a U.S. federal holiday on Monday, June 20. In 2023, Juneteenth will be observed on Monday, June 19.

Why is it called Juneteenth?

The word Juneteenth is a blended shortening of June Nineteenth, the day in 1865 that it commemorates.

What is the history of Juneteenth?

The first records of the name Juneteenth come from 1890, but the holiday has been celebrated since 1866. It was first celebrated on the first anniversary of the day in 1865 when Union Major General Gordon Granger (accompanied by 1,800 troops) proclaimed in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War was over (it had ended two months earlier) and that all enslaved people were free.

The Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, is often thought to have ended slavery in the U.S., but it only freed enslaved people in states of the Confederacy. Many people were still enslaved in Union-controlled states (such as Delaware and Kentucky) until the ratification (in December 1865) of the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery completely.

In the time between, enslavers in Texas and elsewhere (especially in places beyond the Union Army’s advance) ignored the emancipation order and prevented the news of emancipation from reaching enslaved laborers. In some cases, they even colluded with Union forces to wait to make the announcement until after a harvest was complete.

The proclamation issued in Texas was officially titled General Order No. 3:

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.

Despite declaring “an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property,” the order mentions some of the ways that African Americans continued to be exploited and prevented from reaching true freedom or equality. Many modern Juneteenth observances aim to raise awareness of the oppression that African Americans faced even after slavery was officially abolished.

In 1980, Texas became the first state to adopt Juneteenth as a state holiday. While Juneteenth has been long observed by African Americans, widespread observance and recognition of the day has grown in recent years. In 2021, Juneteenth was officially adopted as a legal public holiday in the U.S.

What are some terms that often get used in discussing Juneteenth?

How is Juneteenth discussed in real life?

Recognition and observance of Juneteenth has grown in recent years, with many calling for it to become a U.S. federal holiday. Observance of the holiday often involves discussion of the legacy of slavery in the U.S. and systemic racism.


News about Juneteenth

On June 15, 2021, the Senate unanimously approved a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday if also passed by the House of Representatives and signed by President Joe Biden. Federal holidays, such as Labor Day or Veterans Day, are legal public holidays on which federal government employees are given a paid day off of work.

On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. With Biden’s signature, Juneteenth officially became a federal legal public holiday. In observance of the holiday, most federal employees were given June 18 off work (as Juneteenth fell on a Saturday in 2021).

Try using Juneteenth!

True or False?

Juneteenth has been celebrated since 1980.

How to use Juneteenth in a sentence