Celebrating Juneteenth: The History Behind Freedom Day

Juneteenth, traditionally observed on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in America were told they were free. On this date slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863.

Also frequently referred to as Freedom Day, Juneteenth is already celebrated in most states. This is the first year it is an official holiday in the state of Massachusetts.

As of this year, Boston University now recognizes Juneteenth as an official holiday as part of ongoing efforts to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive. The United States Senate and House of Representatives approved a bill that would make Juneteenth a legal public holiday, and the measure is expected to be approved by President Biden.

BU is hosting various online webinars and events to allow our community to engage with and learn more about this important day – find a list of programming here.

To learn more about Juneteenth, we recommend listening to The Juneteenth Mixtape episode of the new podcast, Be Antiracist with Ibram X Kendi. Additionally, BU Senior Diversity Officer Andrea Taylor helped to break down the significance of Juneteenth in a new video.