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SCU Library Celebrates Juneteenth

This guide is a resource to discover and learn about the Juneteenth Holiday

What is Juneteenth?

The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth

"On “Freedom’s Eve,” or the eve of January 1, 1863, the first Watch Night services took place. On that night, enslaved and free African Americans gathered in churches and private homes all across the country awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. At the stroke of midnight, prayers were answered as all enslaved people in Confederate States were declared legally free. Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the south reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom in Confederate States. Only through the Thirteenth Amendment did emancipation end slavery throughout the United States.

But not everyone in Confederate territory would immediately be free. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as "Juneteenth," by the newly freed people in Texas". 

Source: “The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth.” National Museum of African American History and Culture, 1 June 2023, 

Why Do We Celebrate Juneteenth?

Columbians (Columbia University) Share the History and How They Observe the Day

"For many, especially in the southern United States and particularly in Texas, Juneteenth has been an emancipation celebration observed for generations. It commemorates the announcement of General Order No. 3, proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. That day was when every enslaved person in the U.S. finally knew that they were free and the institution came to an end. It’s possible that you’re among the many people just coming to understand the holiday. Columbia invites you to dig into the history it honors and mark it in one way or another. This year, for the second time, the university will observe Juneteenth. This Columbia mini-doc uncovers the backstory—historical and personal—of Juneteenth, as told by a collection of our students, scholars, and staff. We thank all of them for sharing their voices and experiences." 

Source: “Why Do We Celebrate Juneteenth? Columbians Share the History and How They Observe the Day.” Why Do We Celebrate Juneteenth? Columbians Share the History and How They Observe the Day, 11 June 2021,