What You Need to Know About Juneteenth

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How Is Juneteenth Celebrated?

Known also as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth Independence Day and Black Independence Day, Juneteenth celebrations began on the day’s first anniversary and quickly became annual, but ensuing segregation laws worked to keep festivities off public land, pushing them into rural areas, according to Juneteenth.com. Wherever they were, the website explains, the day involved bringing families together to celebrate with prayer and barbecues. Some freed African-Americans and their descendants even made a pilgrimage back to Galveston to honor the occasion.

As members of the Black community eventually became land owners themselves, property was donated and dedicated to these particular festivities. One of the earliest documented land purchases in the name of Juneteenth occurred in 1872 when, according to Juneteenth.com, Rev. Jack Yates raised enough funds to purchase 10 acres of land in Houston, creating Emancipation Park. 

Cliff Robinson, the founder of the website, told NBC News that, today, Juneteenth celebrations are held in most, if not all, states. In the South, especially, these celebrations “traditionally involve events such as picnics, rodeos, religious components like church ceremonies, and education and historical services for children,” Robinson said.

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