Juneteenth commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. Here's how to learn more about the history and importance of this holiday.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, traces its roots to 1865, when Union Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas with news about the end of the Civil War and slavery. President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery more than two years earlier, but the word had traveled slowly around the country, and Granger’s General Order No. 3 became cause for celebration.

Juneteenth (June 19) became an official state holiday in Texas in 1980, and today is celebrated throughout the U.S. with festivals (many virtual this year) as well as in homes.

Here are some Midwest institutions with resources, events and other information on Juneteenth:

Cincinnati’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center joins five other leading black museums and institutions on June 19 to launch BLKFREEDOM.org, a digital commemoration of Juneteenth. Also participating is the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

@betterchicago offers resources to learn more about Juneteenth and attend some celebrations in Chicago:

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is partnering with Juneteenth KC for a virtual celebration that will include music, dance, poetry, films and more.

“Typically, we could gather in the museum to connect and share with dancing, music, food and art. But these are not typical times. Given recent events, it is more important than ever that we come together—virtually—to reflect on and commemorate this historic event through visual and literary arts, music, entertainment, and education,” the museum wrote on Instagram.

Semicolon Bookstore, Chicago’s only black woman-owned bookstore, is sponsoring a #ClearTheShelves event with free books and lunch on June 19, then a sale on Saturday, June 20, to benefit Calculated Genius, “a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping underrepresented youth explore and connect to engineering, in an effort to inspire and support a brighter future.”

Experience Columbus suggests ways to “reflect, listen, learn and celebrate”:

Many of the institutions sponsoring virtual celebrations are currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but will be reopening over the next few weeks. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, for instance, has announced it will reopen July 24. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History reopens July 10.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
| Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki