Texas celebrates Juneteenth, but there’s growing interest across US for a federal holiday

The holiday is celebrated in June because slaves in Texas and several other states did not learn of their freedom until June of 1865. (David Paul Morris, 2004 Getty Images)

HOUSTONJuneteenth is a big deal in Texas and interest in the holiday is growing across the nation.

Texas has officially celebrated Juneteenth since 1980, but the country — amid widespread protests following the death of George Floyd, among others, at the hands of police — appears to show interest now in a national Juneteenth holiday.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when news finally reached enslaved people in Texas that President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves living in Confederate states two years earlier. Juneteenth is also called Emancipation Day and Freedom Day. Read more here about the holiday’s history.

Multiple petitions on Change.org are asking for support for a Juneteenth federal holiday, with this one, garnering the support of more than 200,000 digital signatures.

Support for Juneteenth as a holiday has spread to Virginia, with the governor there, Ralph Northam, announcing he’s making Juneteenth a state holiday. As the Associated Press noted in its reporting, that’s a move made by a state that was once home of the former capital of the Confederacy.

In addition to petitions and official changes to calendars, companies are also making Juneteenth a holiday to be celebrated, adding names to a social media campaign called #HellaJuneteenth. Here are some of the companies listed in the campaign:

  • Adobe
  • Twitter
  • Square
  • VoxMedia
  • Lyft
  • Eventbrite
  • Mastercard
  • Postmates
  • Spotify
  • Tumblr
  • Netflix
  • Target
  • Outbrain

See the full list here.

What do you think about a federal holiday for Juneteenth? Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.