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What is Juneteenth?

Ann Schmidt

Friday marks the 155th anniversary of the end of slavery in the U.S.

The annual celebration is called Juneteenth -- a portmanteau of June and 19th -- and commemorates the day in 1865 when Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that the Civil War had ended and read General Order No. 3 that said all enslaved people were free. Granger's announcement came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

JUNETEENTH: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The first celebration of Juneteenth took place the year after Granger's announcement.

Texas made it a state holiday in 1980. Since then, 45 other states and Washington, D.C., “have moved to officially recognize the day,” The New York Times reported. However, Juneteenth is not a federal holiday.

NIKE DECLARES JUNETEENTH A COMPANY HOLIDAY

According to Juneteenth.com, the holiday is “almost always focused on education and self-improvement.” Celebratory activities include prayer services, rodeos, barbecuing and baseball, the website said. Parades also take place in major U.S. cities.

The Times reported that some people who had been enslaved, along with their relatives, traveled to Galveston every year for Juneteenth.

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The holiday has reached even farther than the U.S. South Korea, Ghana, Israel, Taiwan, France and Guam have had or still hold Juneteenth celebrations.

Juneteenth has garnered more interest this year in light of the protests over police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Many major U.S. companies like Nike and Twitter have announced they will make Juneteenth a paid company holiday.

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