freedom day June 19, 1865

Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, is an American holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement abolishing slavery in the state of Texas.

In 1980 “Emancipation Day in Texas” became a legal state holiday in recognition of Juneteenth. Elsewhere, the holiday is also referred to as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day because the United State's Independence Day, July 4, 1776—Black people in the United States were far from free.

Let’s do some math. The Emancipation Proclamation declared that as of January 1, 1863 “all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free. 1863! In a time before the internet, it took two and half years to notify and confirm the freedom of all slaves within the country.

When freedpeople tried to celebrate the first anniversary of the announcement a year later, they—of course— were faced with a problem. Segregation laws were expanding rapidly, and there were no public places or parks they were permitted to use. So, in the 1870s, those formerly enslaved collected $800 and purchased 10 acres of land, which they deemed "Emancipation Park." It became the only public park and swimming pool in the Houston area that was open to African Americans until the 1950s.

How do you celebrate Juneteenth?

Read on for AA Pulse’s suggestions to educate yourself and join in on the Freedom Day fun.

The History of Juneteenth Video

Watch a clip from Blackish, as Dre enlists Aloe Blacc at work to help him create a catchy song sung by The Roots to raise awareness for a holiday worth celebrating, Juneteenth.

The First Juneteenth

“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 personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.

The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

—General Orders, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865


Forty-Seven of the 50 U.S states recognize Juneteenth as either a state holiday or day of observance.

It's still not a national holiday. As a senator, former President Barack Obama co-sponsored legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday, though it didn't pass then or while he was president.



Juneteenth is an opportunity to nourish the community and our souls.

Red foods are customary for Juneteenth as a symbol of strength and spirituality—specifically life and death. Watermelon, Texas Pete hot sauce and red velvet cake are traditional in celebrations. A strawberry pie wouldn’t be out of place either.

Red drinks are an essential part of the Juneteenth food experience. With origins to the kola nut and hibiscus flowers, red drinks, post-slavery, were often found in Southern households as a refreshing inexpensive drink. Juneteenth wouldn't be Juneteenth without a red drink!

Old Fashioned Tea Cakes

Screenshot This! Associate Justin Bass, Advertising Coordinator—CRM Email, shares his family's recipe for Tea Cakes. Think a sugar cookie with spices.

Mama Dixon's Tea Cakes

  • 1 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Soften butter in microwave or pan. Do not melt completely, just enough so the butter can be mixed. Blend together butter and sugar then add vanilla and eggs.

Grab a separate bowl

  • 2-3 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

Sift together dry ingredients. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar/butter mixture. Roll out onto lightly floured surface. Cut with cookie cutter and bake. Makes about 12 to 14 tea cakes. You can add chocolate chips, nuts, or other ingredients. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes.


Homemade Red Drink/Soda

Strawberry Ginger Ale Recipe

Yield: varies based on taste


  • 2 ounces chopped peeled ginger
  • 8 ounces chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 12 ounces sugar
  • 1 quart chilled sparkling water or club soda


  • Combine water and sugar over medium heat and bring to a boil; stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved
  • Add ginger and strawberries
  • Simmer for 10 minutes then remove from heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour
  • Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on the strawberries and ginger to get all the juice and flavor—discard remains
  • Chill syrup in a covered bowl or jar until cold
  • Mix syrup with sparkling water or club soda to taste (start with 1/4 cup syrup per 3/4 cup club soda then adjust to taste).


Read more about Juneteenth and its correlation to current events here and here

Try a Black-Owned Restaurant or Business You've Never Tried Before

July 7, 2020 - Black Out Day

Participate in the Juneteenth 30-Day Challenge ›

Celebrate African American Music - Make a playlist, dust off some vinyl or attend a virtual concert feature your favorite Black artists

We encourage Home Depot associates to visit The Respect for All People Action Center ›

Be a Griot - Gather your family and friends via your favorite video sharing platform and reinvigorate inspiration by presenting oral family histories and famous speeches like Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman," or Barbara Jordan's keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention.


Photos used are public domain or used under Creative Commons licensing.