Juneteenth Celebration Reading and Resources

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth (short for June nineteenth) commemorates the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to alert enslaved people they were finally free. The declaration was made more than two-and-a-half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and its anniversary marks the official end of enslavement in the U.S.

How is Juneteenth Celebrated?

The first Juneteenth celebration took place in 1866, and festivities throughout the U.S. have continued on the date ever since. In 1872, a group of formerly enslaved people put together $800 and purchased 10 acres of land in Houston, Texas, for the city’s annual observation of Juneteenth, and they named the space Emancipation Park, where the holiday continues to be recognized each year.

Today, Juneteenth celebrations continue to be held throughout the country, and often involve events such as picnics, barbecues, church ceremonies, parades, concerts and more. Traditionally, red drinks, such as strawberry soda, and red foods, like red velvet cake, are a must at the cookouts, as the primary color symbolizes resilience.

Why is celebrating Juneteenth Important?

Juneteenth represents Independence Day for Black people in the U.S., and serves as a reminder for their continued fight for equity and freedom.

“Today's political climate is the result of a concerted effort over many years to teach individuals a revised history: that the system of slavery was related to state’s rights, when in fact it was a treasonous act that this nation must not revisit. One of the ways we can prevent another uprising of a treasonous act [like slavery] is to recognize milestones like Juneteenth,” says NAACP President Derrick Johnson.

“I think the significance and purpose of recognizing Juneteenth is something that all citizens should acknowledge because, if there is not a retelling or remembrance of the true history in this nation, we're doomed to repeat it.”

Resources to Learn More

The Sacramento Kings are committed to the Black community and have announced Juneteenth as an annual paid company holiday. In the spirit of celebrating liberation, while also reflecting on the organization’s commitment to working with the community to continue to address racial inequity through sustained action the content herein will be routinely updated with additional resources.