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What is Juneteenth and why are you hearing about it now?

Juneteenth is the commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, but the day will take on an extra meaning in the wake of George Floyd's killing. 

June 19 marks the day back in 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, to announce the civil war was over and the final group of African Americans were now free.

The day came more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official on January 1, 1863.

It is believed the delay between the proclamation and announcing the end of slavery in Texas was due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order.

But with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

General Granger read out to the people of Texas - General Order Number 3.

It read: "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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labourer."

The name - Juneteenth - is a combination of June and Nineteenth and is also known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth Independence Day and Black Independence Day.

The day is remembered in America with celebrations and the descendants of former slaves making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.

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Updated on January 27th, 2013

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