When is Juneteenth? Did the holiday start in Texas? Here’s everything you need to know

Juneteenth, a commemoration of freedom for the last African American slaves in Texas, will be celebrated nationwide this week.

It was on June 19, 1865 that General Order No. 3 was issued to Texas notifying the enslaved of their freedom, two and a half years after it had already been declared.

Following the news, former slaves and their descendants celebrated the day each year with barbecues, rodeos, and prayer sessions. Emancipation Park in Houston was purchased by a group of former slaves to become the official grounds for the celebration in 1872.

In 1979, Texas became the first to declare Juneteenth a state holiday. After Fort Worth’s own Opal Lee walked 1,400 miles to Washington D.C to get nationwide recognition of Juneteenth, President Joe Biden signed legislation designating it as a federal holiday in 2021.

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What’s open and closed?

Juneteenth falls on Wednesday which means it’ll be a paid day off for federal employees. Fedex and UPS will be open but the United States Postal Service will not make regular deliveries. Banks will also be closed.

Businesses are free to choose whether or not to remain open on Juneteenth so give them a call before you visit. City hall and other federal, state and local government offices will be closed along with Fort Worth schools.

A Call to Action

Marking its declaration as a federal holiday, Biden encouraged Americans to reflect on the past and take action.

“I call upon the people of the United States to acknowledge and celebrate the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of Black Americans, and commit together to eradicate systemic racism that still undermines our founding ideals and collective prosperity.”

Since Opal Lee’s historic walk to Washington D.C, Texans have joined her in a 2.5 mile Walk for Freedom through Fort Worth’s historic Southside neighborhood each year on Juneteenth. The celebration will move to Dallas this year to demonstrate its impact on communities in other cities.