Juneteenth: A Day of Justice and Freedom

Jun 19, 2023

Movember blue photo for article

Juneteenth – or June nineteenth – commemorates the historic day that all enslaved Black Americans were freed.

A day long-celebrated by Black Americans, Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day in the United States. Although Juneteenth gained recognition when it became a federal holiday in 2021, many people are still not familiar with the history and meaning behind it. This June, we wanted to shine a light on this country’s second independence day and some ways we can all celebrate it. 

What is the history of Juneteenth?

On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery. But not everyone was freed that day. For those enslaved in Confederate-controlled states like Texas, the Proclamation was not enforced and freedom did not come for more than two years later. 

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform the 250,000 enslaved Black Americans in the state that they were free. This is why we celebrate the end of slavery on June 19th, not January 1st.

“It is worth remembering that Juneteenth, as much as the Fourth of July, represents American democracy’s true birthday.”
— Dr. Peniel E. Joseph, American scholar

Juneteenth flag graphic

The Juneteenth flag has the same colors as the United States flag – a symbol that formerly enslaved Black Americans and their descendants are also free Americans.

Commemorated for more than 150 years, today Juneteenth is celebrated with family gatherings, parades and festivals, prayer services, food, music and educational events that highlight the history and contributions of Black Americans. 

How can we celebrate Juneteenth at work, at home and in our communities? 

First, by wishing those around you a “Happy Juneteenth”!

By supporting black-owned businesses. In our Black History Month article from February, we included links to black-owned businesses in three of the cities where SK Food Group operates: Columbus, Reno and Phoenix. 

By learning about Juneteenth and the African American experience. You can read more about the history of Juneteenth, browse a Juneteenth reading list or plan a movie night! Here are a few movie and show suggestions to get started:

  • Miss Juneteenth
  • 12 Years A Slave
  • Black-ish
  • Harriet
  • 13th
  • Malcolm X
  • I Am Not Your Negro