Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) is the commemoration of the official ending of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas. Union troops arrived in Galveston to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed. The troops’ arrival came two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. At the time, the proclamation only applied to places under Confederate control, so in Texas, slavery had continued.
Only once the Civil War concluded in 1865 and the troops arrived on the shores of Galveston was Lincoln’s proclamation of freedom was finally bestowed to the staggering 250,000 enslaved people in Texas. The following year, a group of freedmen in Texas planned a “Jubilee Day” for June 19th, and the traditions of celebration continued and grew.
The last of the enslaved must have felt overwhelming emotions upon learning of their freedom—including joy for the end of their long-fought battle and fear of the unknown future. Juneteenth is certainly a time for celebration, but as we think of how far we have come since then, we must also reflect on the journey—both good and bad—and how much work is still left.
Whether it be reflecting on slavery, the quest for Civil Rights, or housing inequities that still exist today, one thing that is for certain is that Black Americans have a spirit of perseverance, despite facing adversity for hundreds of years. So, what are ways REALTORS® can learn and celebrate on this holiday? Below are a few tips:
- Read more on the history of Juneteenth.
- Start a conversation about Juneteenth with your family, friends, and/or colleagues.
- Watch “High on the Hog”, a Netflix docuseries that details how African and Black American cuisine inspired many of the foods we know and love today. One episode of the series discusses Juneteenth and the history of Black cowboys and barbecue in Texas.
- Intentionally buy from Black businesses on Saturday, June 19th.
For additional ideas to celebrate this day, check out 25 Ideas to Help You Celebrate Juneteenth.