More than 150 years after Black Americans began celebrating Juneteenth to commemorate their freedom from slavery, Congress overwhelming passed legislation this week declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday. On June 19, 1865 — almost two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation — Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, one of the last remaining outposts of slavery in the U.S., and declared that he and his troops would enforce the proclamation and ensure freedom for those who remained enslaved. For slaves in Galveston and in many former Confederate states, the proclamation’s guarantee of freedom was not realized until Union troops actively enforced the law.
The above excerpt was originally published in The Hill.
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