Juneteenth, sometimes known as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, or Emancipation Day, is a holiday dating back to 1865 that commemorates the end of human enslavement in the United States and celebrates the resilience of African Americans in the pursuit of equality. 


Juneteenth originated two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s salvo against slavery in 1863 via the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared “that all persons held as slaves” shall be “forever free.” To enforce the Proclamation, President Lincoln dispersed Union soldiers throughout the Confederate states and, as a result, messages of freedom were delivered at different times following the Proclamation.


Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. It was there that Granger issued General Order No. 3 declaring:


“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.”


According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, “more than 250,000 African Americans embraced freedom by this order in what became known as Juneteenth.”


Months later, Congress ratified the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, effectively abolishing in the United States chattel slavery, which legally permitted enslaved persons to be treated as commodities that could be willed, traded or sold.  


On June 17, 2021, President Biden codified the holiday by signing into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act


The State of Georgia later adopted Juneteenth as a state holiday in April 2022, and Georgia's governor issued a proclamation in support of the holiday in 2022. As highlighted in the excerpt below, the proclamation honors the holiday’s historic meaning, heavy past, and shining promise of a future of equality: 


“As one of the oldest American holidays, Juneteenth commemorates formerly enslaved individuals and their descendants and has historically been a time of prayer, reflection, and family reunion; and


Juneteenth also highlights the artistic and intellectual achievements collectively preserved through the pre/post middle passage, the slave trade, the emancipation era, and the civil rights movement, as well as more recent accomplishments of African American cultural expression; and


Although Juneteenth celebration is specific to the emancipation of African descendants, its message promotes the continued freedom and economic prosperity of individuals from all races, colors, creeds, and cultures; and 


In recognizing the holiday of Juneteenth in the State of Georgia, we acknowledge the challenges, successes, tribulations, and perseverance of all those who lived during these periods in our history.”


Many activities will be held throughout the country in honor of Juneteenth, including the Sandy Springs Juneteenth Celebration co-sponsored by the City of Dunwoody. This event will highlight a variety of educational, artistic and culinary experiences in tribute to freedom and liberty. Now that you know more about the Juneteenth holiday, please join the City of Dunwoody at what is sure to be a meaningful celebration!