Did you know there is more than one Independence Day in the United States? On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and announced enslaved people were now free. What you may not realize is that this was approximately 2 1/2 years AFTER President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official Jan. 1, 1863.

This is truly hard to believe, and you may be asking yourself, how is that possible? How does an entire state, especially one as large as Texas, not know that such a profound law was passed more than 2 years earlier? For one, Texas was one of the few states in the South that had yet to be claimed by the Union army. And though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. Which meant (unconscionably), the slave owners were empowered to inform slaves know about the news. As you can imagine, most weren’t thrilled about the prospect of losing “their property”. In fact, when freed people tried to leave, many of them were beaten, lynched, or murdered.

Is Juneteenth a state or federal holiday?

Juneteenth is not a federal holiday. In 1980 “Emancipation Day in Texas” became a legal state holiday in recognition of Juneteenth. However, state offices do not completely close, as it is considered a "partial staffing holiday." Elsewhere, the holiday is also referred to as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day. Today, all but four states recognize the holiday: Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.

Where does Juneteenth get its name?

Juneteenth is a combination of "June" and "nineteenth," in honor of the day that Granger announced the abolition of slavery in Texas. Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.

How has Black Lives Matter impacted Juneteenth?

Companies like Twitter and Square have made Juneteenth a company holiday, and chief executive Jack Dorsey has declared this day as “A day for celebration, education and connection”.

Learn more about Juneteenth here: History of Juneteenth

Written by TJ Albert, Director of Global Compliance & Legal Affairs

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