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A topic guide about Juneteenth and other African American emancipation celebrations. Resources are included to assist researchers in understanding the dynamics of early post-Emancipation society.

About Juneteenth

Juneteenth is one of many emancipation celebrations around the United States. These events celebrate African Americans' freedom from enslavement. Originating in Texas, Juneteenth is observed on the 19th of June and commemorates the end of slavery in Texas.

Below, Bishop John Hurst Adams of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, speaks at an NAACP Emancipation Day Service on January 1, 1989. In Georgia, emancipation is also commonly celebrated on December 31 (Watch Night) or Emancipation Day (January 1).

Emancipation Day Calendar

Emancipation traditions vary across the states where slavery was legal. In addition to Juneteenth, many states and communities have their own celebrations that take place annually as early as April to as late as November.

  • April 3 - Virginia
    • Marks the day in 1865 that the city of Richmond, led by the United States Colored Troops (USCT) fell to the Union Army.
  • April 16 - District of Columbia
    • Marks the day in 1865 when President Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act.  This date has been an official public holiday since 2005.
  • May 20 - Florida
    • Marks the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Florida, which took place in 1865.
  • May 8 - Mississippi
    • "Eight o'May" commemorates the date in 1865 when African Americans in eastern Mississippi learned of their freedom.
  • May 29 - Georgia (Saturday closest to May 29)
    • William Guillford, who would become a Georgia state legislator representing Upson County, was one of the organizers of what is believed to be the earliest Emancipation celebrations in the United States, beginning in 1866.
  • June 19 - Texas
    • Known as Juneteenth, a combination of the words "June" and "19th," this celebration commemorates the day when African Americans in Texas learned of their emancipation
  • August 8 - Kentucky and Tennessee
    • In some communities in Kentucky and Tennessee, emancipation is celebrated on August 8. The day commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved people in this area learned of their freedom.
  • November 1 - Maryland
    • This day was officially recognized in 2013 by the governor of Maryland.