Juneteenth dates back to June 19, 1865, when the news of the Emancipation Proclamation - which had been signed over two years earlier - reached Texas via military order proclaiming the freedom of all enslaved people. The name of the 155-year-old holiday comes from a combination of the words "June" and "Nineteenth," commemorating that date in 1865 on which 250,000 people in Texas gained their freedom. The first Juneteenth celebration was held the following year and is celebrated to this day across the United States, the oldest nationally celebrated holiday commemorating the end of slavery, according to
In 1900, James Weldon Johnson composed the poem that would become the hymn that, in the 1920s, would be adopted by the NAACP as the official Negro National Anthem. For more information see Smithsonian Magazine.
It became one of the most iconic songs. See the CNN article What Makes "Lift Every Voice and Sing" so Iconic by Faith Karimi and AJ Willingham, CNN
Lift Every Voice and Sing
By James Weldon Johnson
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.
(Courtesy of PBS)
Lift Every Voice and Sing (original 1900 score) (James Weldon Johnson & J. Rosamond Johnson)
Lift Every Voice and Sing. Presented by Nicole Heaston in the Purple Robe Song Series Part II. The Negro National Anthem sung by the Purple Robe Song Series--Group of the best African American Opera Singers in the World
Black Chefs on The Tradition of Juneteenth And Need for Diversity in The Food Industry | NBC News
Chef Carla Hall shares delicious and meaningful recipes for Juneteenth l GMA
The Best Foods to Celebrate Juneteenth with || Thrillist Celebrates Juneteenth
Ham, Juleps, Pickled Shrimp, and much more! This Bon Appétit article lists 12 mouthwatering dishes for Juneteenth.
Link and image of Etha Robinson from the website for NPR's podcast Code Switch.
by Dana Givens for Saveur (2019)
This New York Times piece provides historical context and plenty of food ideas to help you celebrate!
by Lisette Oler for The Daily Texan (2017)
"After President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freedom celebrations emerged amongst the enslaved. These celebrations continue to this day in the form of Juneteenth, a holiday marking the end of slavery in Texas that's widely observed throughout the U.S. by African-Americans — customarily with free-flowing red drinks in hand."
Harvard historian Annette Gordon-Reed grew up in Texas, and she joins host Krys Boyd to discuss the history of Texas exceptionalism, an economic model based on slavery and race, and the legacy that remains today.
Learn more about Ms. Opal Lee, a 94-year-old activist fighting to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
View parts of the original Emancipation Proclamation from the National Archives.
A publication of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.
The Juneteenth Foundation is a 501(C)3 organized by a group of professionals championing the celebration of Juneteenth. In 2021, Juneteenth was nationally recognized and celebrated for the first time ever as a federal holiday in the United States and around the world.
On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This research guide compiles digital materials at the Library of Congress, links to related external websites, and a print bibliography.
A well-written and informative article about Juneteenth and it's positive, ongoing effects in America.
Wondering how to get your community involved in celebrating Juneteenth? Check out this page from Juneteenth.com for suggestions. Juneteenth.com also provides historical background for this important marker in history.
June 19th is traditionally embraced as the day in 1863 when slaves in Texas learned they'd been freed. But historian Hari Jones, Assistant Director of the African-American Civil War Museum in Washington, D.C., says many are misinformed about the true significance of the holiday.