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What is Juneteenth?


What is Juneteenth?

You've probably been hearing on the news that businesses, major sports leagues and several state governments are recognizing Juneteenth for its historical significance and importance as black Independence Day.  Girl Scouts of the USA and several local Councils across the country (including GSCSNJ) have followed suit.  Do you know the history of Juneteenth?

On June 19, 1865, about two months after the end of the Civil War, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended.  General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on January 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.

The holiday received its name by combining June and 19. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”  Today, while many celebrations take place among families in local communities, some large cities, like Atlanta and Washington, typically hold larger events, like parades and festivals.  In 1980, Texas became the first state to designate Juneteenth as a holiday, and since then 45 other states and the District of Columbia followed.  New Jersey officially recognized Juneteenth in 2004.   Several petitions have been in circulation to advocate for Juneteenth to be recognized as a national holiday, though those efforts have not been successful.  The U.S. Senate passed a resolution in 2018 declaring June 19 as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” however no action has yet been undertaken in the House of Representatives.

Girl Scouts is proud to bring attention and recognition to Juneteenth.


Activities that teach the history of Juneteenth, acknowledging the hard history while also empowering Girl Scouts to be advocates for change.


-What is slavery?

  • Read a first-hand account of a slave.
  • Discuss how the girls would feel in this situation.
  • Do you have family that were slaves?
  • Do have family that owned slaves?
  • What does each girls family history mean to them?

-What is the Emancipation Proclamation?
-Create a timeline of relevant historical events starting from the first years of slavery to the establishment of Juneteenth as a holiday in Texas, highlighting June 19, 1865 “Juneteenth”.


-Color a Juneteenth flag.
-Visit an African American Museum
-Pick an event in your timeline and write a poem about it.
-Watch a video:

  • What is Juneteenth? Watch a Juneteenth Cartoon (Fun Facts about Juneteenth)
  • Why Every American Should Learn About Juneteenth | NowThis
    What is Juneteenth?

-Connect the effect of slavery to modern-day systemic racism.
-Watch a movie about African American history.

Take Action:
-Join in on a Juneteenth Celebration either virtually or in person. (Remember to social distance)
-Sign an online petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
-Write a letter to your representatives and ask them to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
-Research and donate to a cause that helps the Black community.


Additional Resources: