CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Juneteenth is celebrated annually on the 19th of June to commemorate the day in 1865 when the remaining enslaved African Americans in the U.S. were told that they were free.
A common misconception is that this day marks the end of slavery in the United States.
During the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln officially issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st 1863 declaring that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of America in rebellion were now freed.
The War didn’t end for two and a half more years… not until April of 1865.
In June of that year Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2,000 federal troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the federal government. Texas was the most remote of the slave states with a low presence of Union troops so enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent.
Union Army General Gordon Granger
The following year Freedmen’s Bureau in Texas organized the first of what became the annual celebration of “Jubilee Day” or Juneteenth on June 19.
Slavery in the United States did not officially end until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution on December 6, 1865 which abolished slavery entirely in all of the U.S. states and territories.
Juneteenth is celebrated in most major cities across the United States and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 49 of the 50 U.S. states. Activists are campaigning for Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and a representative of the Brethren Community Foundation gave remarks on the steps of City Hall at 10 a.m. Sarno read a proclamation declaring today as Juneteenth day in the city of Springfield.