In Honor of Juneteenth

Juneteenth is an annual national holiday on June 19th to commemorate when Union soldiers imposed the Emancipation Proclamation, and set free all remaining slaves in Texas in 1865. This day is an opportunity for people to celebrate the right to be free, and to have equal rights in the United States. There are a plethora of festivals, rallies, and observances taking place today all across the globe. It is really a time to grow and bond over our nation's trecherous past, and advance into our promising future. 

Fellow Oklahoman, Ralph Ellison, discusses in his novel how Juneteenth celebrations used to be less prevalent as African Americans were migrating during the Great Depression, however, became more frequent as people started to form bonds over their previous experiences. 

“Ralph Ellison, the famous African American writer born in Oklahoma City in 1914, wrote a novel titled Juneteenth that was published in 1999 after his death. In the novel the fictional characters recall a Juneteenth celebration that also emphasized preaching by several ministers. In the depression of the 1930s the celebration declined as some African Americans migrated westward to California. Yet they carried Juneteenth with them. In one Los Angeles neighborhood it survived as the "Oklahoma Picnic" on June 19.” (Barr, Smallwood)

Alwyn Barr and James M. Smallwood, "Juneteenth," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,


Abby Sullivan 

Summer Intern