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This years’ Juneteenth Celebration will be filled with a variety of fun and entertainment for the entire family to enjoy, including stage performances, music, arts and crafts, food and refreshments. Event attendees will also have an opportunity to receive free information from community businesses in the areas of wealth, health, education, job training, employment, housing, corporate and governmental services and more.

What is Juneteenth? Juneteenth is one of the oldest African American recognized celebrations that mark the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is always observed on or around June 19th, the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas learned that they had been freed by President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The only problem was that the slaves in Texas finally heard about their freedom in 1865 – two and a half years later. President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had become official on January 1, 1863. On June 19, 1865 Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas and read General Order Number 3 to the people.

Why is Juneteenth celebrated? Celebrations started in the years following General Order Number 3. The former slaves needed a way to reconnect with each other and to recount that fateful day that their freedom was announced. Juneteenth is a family-oriented celebration that focuses on community as well as recounting the stories of the past. Juneteenth celebrations strive to acknowledge the wrongs that were committed by slavery and help to raise the descendents up by concentrating on education and personal achievements.

Where is Juneteenth celebrated? As the years went on, the celebrations became more elaborate with rodeos, picnics, barbecues, fishing trips and family reunions. Many of the first Juneteenth celebrations were held on the grounds of African American churches. Juneteenth started in Texas, but the largest celebrations today are held in Milwaukee and Minneapolis showing how far the idea has traveled over the years. If you have never heard of Juneteenth learn a little about the history and consider joining people all over this country as they celebrate this important holiday in June.

Lee County Black History Society, Inc. is very appreciative to all the local businesses and organizations that have joined us in support of this positive event. For further information, call 239-332-8778 or email blackhistory@leecountyblackhistorysociety.org.