With the Civil War going on, people in Texas did not know that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
Gen. Gordon Granger, whose mission was to make sure that all enslaved people were freed, brought the word to Galveston on June 19, 1865, more than two months after the war ended on April 9, 1865.
Upon setting foot on Texas soil with federal troops, Granger read General Orders Number 3:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
The general orders freed 250,000 slaves in Texas that day.
In 1866, freedmen in Texas celebrated the first of what became known as "Jubilee Day" on June 19, and the celebrations included barbecues, music, prayer services, speeches and other activities.
The holiday later became known as Juneteenth, a shortening of June 19.
Juneteenth is widely known as the longest-running African American holiday. Slavery was officially abolished in the United States in Dec.1865 with the adoption of the 13th Amendment.
As African- Americans moved away from Texas, the Juneteenth tradition spread. While efforts to make Juneteenth a national holiday have stalled in Congress, 47 states recognize June 19 as a state holiday.