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Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the war was ended, freeing the enslaved. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation; which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome resistance.
In 2006, legislation was passed making New Mexico the 19th state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. With the passage of House Bill 228 sponsored by Majority Whip Sheryl Williams Stapleton and supported by many legislators, “Juneteenth Freedom Day” was honored. Learn more about Juneteenth in New Mexico.
Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten.
Community organizations can receive funding from the OAAA Juneteenth fund to conduct celebrations in the state of New Mexico, contact our offices for more information.