Across the nation last week various communities celebrated Juneteenth with a parade, festival, or both. The holiday is the best-known emancipation celebration in the United States, commemorating June 19, 1865, the day that Union troops under the command of General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas with the announcement of the abolition of slavery. Until Granger’s arrival, some enslaved Texans were unaware of the end of slavery.
Growing up in a military family, I fondly recall attending Juneteenth celebrations in most of the States I called home. The festivities included speeches and actors recreating events in the life of historical figures, such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. There were also games, music, arts and crafts, and great food! The holiday brought together a diverse population of my local community to commemorate this event and celebrate African American heritage and culture.
Years later when I started working in the Archives at the Anacostia Community Museum, I was thrilled to discover the museum held Juneteenth community festivals from 1989 to 1998. In addition, the museum documented Juneteenth in Galveston, Texas for its 2005 exhibition: Jubilee: African American celebrations exhibition.
Our archival holdings consist of a sizable collection of contemporary Juneteenth materials, from photographs and programs to video recordings. We are now hard at work on an onwill be more accessible as we move towards making our collections more publicly accessible online.