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What is Juneteenth? An explanation of the holiday on June 19

Cincinnati Enquirer logo Cincinnati Enquirer 6/19/2019 Briana Rice

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on June 19 that commemorates the end of slavery. It is celebrated across the country with festivals, barbecues and parades.

Here's everything you need to know about Juneteenth:

What is Juneteenth?

a group of people standing in front of a sign © Provided by Gannett Co., Inc. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that enslaved people were now free. This was 2 1/2 years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official Jan. 1, 1863.

Why did it take so long for the news to get to Texas?

There is no clear reason for 2 1/2-year delay in letting Texas know about the abolition of slavery, according to Juneteenth.com. The historical site says some reports say that a messenger was murdered on his way to Texas with the news, while others believe that the news was withheld deliberately by the enslavers. 

The slave owners were given the responsibility of letting their slaves know about the news, and some delayed relaying the information until after the harvest, Henry Louis Gates said in an article originally posted on The Root.

Where does the name 'Juneteenth' come from?

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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 do people celebrate?

Rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball are a few of the typical Juneteenth activities. Many cities host parades, festivals and programs focused on education and social improvement. Prayer services are often a major part of these celebrations.

The Cincinnati Juneteenth celebration traditionally begins with a flag parade that displays around 70 flags that represent African countries where people were captured and enslaved, as well as the countries to which they were transported during the 300+ years of the transAtlantic slave trade.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: What is Juneteenth? An explanation of the holiday on June 19

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