Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of over 250,000 slaves at the close of the Civil War. The holiday is based on events that occurred mainly in Texas but is now celebrated nationwide. The celebration takes its name from June 19, 1865, the day federal troops arrived in Galveston to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. Although the Proclamation had taken effect on January 1, 1863, it freed few, if any, slaves.
News of the war's end did not reach Texas until well after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox . Many speculate that the news was deliberately withheld so that slave owners could bring in one last crop. Others believe that the news was delayed because the messenger traveled by mule while some believe the original messenger was murdered en route.
When the news was finally delivered, it was celebrated in great fashion. Over the years, Juneteenth festivals have evolved into day long events which include picnics, parades, music, dancing, and baseball. In Kansas City, events include a parade, a festival at Swope Park, karate and golf tournaments, a baseball game, a theatrical play, and the crowning of Mr. and Mrs. Juneteenth.
Cohen, H. & Coffin, T. P. (1991). The folklore of American holidays. Detroit: Gale Research Inc.
Galens, J., Sheets, A. J., & Young, R. V. (1995). Gale encyclopedia of multicultural America. Detroit: Gale Research Inc.