What is Juneteenth?

This past weekend, we had the awesome opportunity to celebrate Juneteenth with the Mosaic Templar in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival was filled with food trucks/trailers, African inspired crafts, small and local businesses, as well as concerts performed by local artists. We even spotted the tees we designed for the Templar, out in the festival and in the museum. As families and locals enjoyed the events, excitement filled the air. Every year, this is a time for the community to rejoice for the freedom that they have and reflect on the journeys of the past. But why this celebration and festival? If you asked the majority of Americans, they would have no idea what Juneteenth is. So what is it? Well, sit back, grab your notepad, and let us give a quick history lesson!

It all began back in 1865.  The Civil War was finally over and the country was beginning to mend itself. Two years earlier, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring the abolition of slavery in all states (though it only pertained to states part of the Union at that time). As a result, the news of the proclamation spread throughout the South and hope was spread amongst the African American communities. However, one state remained unchanged - Texas. Because the residents were not informed of the proclamation, slavery was still a part of their lives. It wasn’t until after the Confederates surrendered that the battle against slavery would come to a close. On June 19th, 1865, Major General Granger led Union troops to Galveston, Texas, where the official announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation was told. Here is an excerpt:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

Filled with jubilee, the African American community celebrated and held festivities because of the great news of freedom. That day continued to be celebrated by people in Texas and around the nation. It was soon known as Juneteenth and recognized as a holiday that many celebrate nationally. 152 years later, and African American communities all around the country continue to remember and celebrate the end of slavery and the struggle for freedom that has been one of the biggest battles the nation has ever faced.

And that’s Juneteenth! What a story, right? We were so glad to be a part of the rich heritage that is tied to all those who endured many years of slavery. Attending the Mosaic Templar’s festival was an amazing experience. Check out some highlights from the day below!