This Juneteenth, Honor Progress & Look Ahead

Jun 17, 2022

Dear Friend,

One year ago, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day into federal law.

Juneteenth marks the anniversary date of June 19, 1865, when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take back control of the last state of the Confederacy and ensure that all enslaved people would be freed.

It came two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln — causing enslaved people in the state to lose two years of their freedom.

But even then, the fight for freedom was not over.

Defying the Union’s military orders, many slave owners waited to share the decree until after harvest season. Many others sought to hold newly freed Black people captive in slavery for years to come and took the lives of thousands who tried to flee.

Yet in the face of terror and violence, a group of freed Black women and men of Texas began to celebrate, taking June 19 to not be recognized as a day of unheeded federal orders, but instead as a day that signifies freedom and perseverance.

Ultimately, it took more than 150 years of perseverance — and the murder of George Floyd in 2020 — for Juneteenth to be formally recognized.

As we honor the legacy of Black Americans and celebrate Juneteenth on the one-year anniversary of this holiday’s formal recognition, we have an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been achieved, while looking ahead to the work that still needs to be done to make our community a stronger and more equitable place for all.

With gratitude,


For more information on the history of Juneteenth, please visit Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.