Juneteenth, a combination of the words June and nineteenth, is a commemoration of the end of institutional slavery in the United States held in Galveston, Texas. The U.S. Civil War had ended a month prior but news traveled slowly to the outermost territories, and when word arrived on June 19, the newly freed slaves celebrated wildly. Since 1865 the date has been traditionally celebrated by African Americans as a day to spend with family, picnics, special sermons, parades, and storytelling, and over time the holiday has spread to most of the states of the United States. It is a legal holiday in some states and there is a movement to recognize the date as a federal holiday. Juneteenth as a celebration has moved in and out of favor over the years, with its approval shifting in response to changes in the level of civil rights activism and economic prosperity among African Americans. (from American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore)
Some quotes related to Juneteenth and what it represents:
"Every year we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations. That’s why we need this holiday."
– Al Edwards, Texas Democratic Representative
"Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation."
- Coretta Scott King, human rights activist and leader
"Now I’ve been free, I know what a dreadful condition slavery is. I have seen hundreds of escaped slaves, but I never saw one who was willing to go back and be a slave."
– Harriet Tubman, writer and civil rights activist
"If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned tho' we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader