Juneteenth: An Important Celebration of Emancipation, History and Culture

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The Fourth of July may be the most widely known Independence Day in the United States — but it isn’t the only important holiday commemorating independence. Juneteenth, which is also called Emancipation Day, takes place on June 19 every year and memorializes the official end of slavery in the United States.

While this important tradition has been celebrated since 1866, only in recent years has it begun getting more well-deserved attention. Businesses like Twitter, Square and Electronic Arts made Juneteenth an observed company holiday in 2020, and many offer employees a paid day off on June 19, encouraging workers to volunteer in their communities to mark the occasion. On June 17, 2021, President Biden also signed into law a bill that declares Juneteenth an official federal holiday — a decision Bernice King, CEO of The King Center and daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., called "an important moment of reckoning."

These efforts to recognize the significance of Juneteenth are commendable and foster a much-needed sense of inclusion. But one of the best ways you can begin to appreciate and honor this holiday is to understand the depth of meaning it holds for Black communities. Get started by learning more about the history and importance of Juneteenth, along with the interesting traditions and celebrations that surround it.