July Fourth is not our nation’s only independence day. Too often forgotten, June 19 commemorates the end of slavery on June 19, 1865 — two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
Though the Emancipation Proclamation declared enslaved people legally free, it was slow to be implemented everywhere. It wasn’t until Union troops made their way to Galveston Bay, Texas, after the war that the over 250,000 remaining enslaved people were freed. While some enslavers withheld this information until after the harvest season, June 19 became the chosen day to celebrate by the newly freed, and slavery was formally abolished that December with the 13th Amendment.
The first official Juneteenth celebration, known then as “Jubilee Day,” was held the following year in 1866. Since then, it’s commonly celebrated with parades, barbecues, prayer services, historical and cultural readings, musical performances, and more. Here are some ways you can celebrate in St. Paul:
Support local Black-owned restaurants:
- Golden Thyme
- Handsome Hog
- The Gnome
- Tommie’s Pizza
- 2 Scoops Ice Cream Eatery
- Taste of Rondo Bar & Grill
Participate in community celebrations:
- June 18: Jubilee with Sweet Potato Comfort Pie
- June 19: Celebration with YWCA St. Paul
- June 24: Art + Abolition event with Twin Cities co-ops
- Anytime: Read books from St. Paul Public Library’s Juneteenth book list
- The National Museum of African American History & Culture: The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth
- History.com: What is Juneteenth?
- Congressional Research Service, Federation of American Scientists: Juneteenth – Fact Sheet