Lincoln may have signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, but for the enslaved men and women in Texas, emancipation did not reach them until June 19, 1865.

Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with more than 2,000 Union troops. He announced General Order No. 3, which began “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

The 250,000 former slaves celebrated the news, and over the years it became an annual tradition with singing, barbeques, rodeos, and other festivities. On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas.


This photograph was taken during this year’s 11 annual Juneteenth celebration at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Texas. The community event featured Elizabeth Kahura as the featured story teller.