The SWLA Center for Health Services presents the 2022 Juneteenth Freedom Festival. Due to the pandemic and a couple of storms, the annual event is back to celebrate America's second Independence Day.

Juneteenth also known as Freedom or Emancipation Day is the oldest celebration marking the end of slavery in the United States. During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery in the United States on January 1, 1863. The proclamation declared in part:

"that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free."

When the Civil War ended, Major Gordon Granger was given command of the District of Texas. One of the first things he did was travel to the city of Galveston, to announce that slavery had been abolished. On June 19 1865 Granger delivered to the citizens of Galveston General Order No. 3 which 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, therefore, existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.

This news was cause for jubilation by newly freed people and sparked the beginning of the annual tradition, celebrated across the nation. For even more interesting facts on Juneteenth see the video below.

On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal national holiday. This year Juneteenth Day is Sunday, June 19, 2022, and according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management Monday, June 20, 2022, the federal Juneteenth holiday will be observed. What does Juneteenth mean to you today?

Nearly 157 years since the first Juneteeth celebration, there are many people who are just finding out this federal holiday even existed. This is why the following mini-doc was put together by the University of Columbia. As they uncover the historical backstory of Juneteenth scholars, staff, and students talk about how many people are just coming to understand the holiday. They also share what it means to them personally. Enjoy and happy Juneteenth!

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