Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Also referred to as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Black Independence Day or Juneteenth Independence Day, the name “Juneteenth” references the date of the holiday, combining the words “June” and “nineteenth.”

In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that the more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states be freed. However, it was more than two years later before that news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19,1865 to take control of the state that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished.

Two African American women celebrating Juneteenth on a parade float

The following year, on June 19, the first celebrations took place in Texas. Originally, these observances included prayer meetings and spiritual songs. A short time later, African Americans in other states were celebrating Juneteenth as well, and it became an annual tradition. The celebrations continue today and typically include prayer services, barbecues, festivals with music and dancing, as well as family gatherings and picnics.

People sitting on a red parade float

Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered to be the longest-running African American holiday. In 1979, Texas became the first state to make it an official holiday and, in June 2021, Congress passed a resolution establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday, with President Joe Biden signing it into law on June 17, 2021.

Juneteenth Events:

Saratoga Springs' First Annual Juneteenth Celebration at The Lodge will be held on Monday, June 20, from 1pm-2:30pm at the Frederick Allen Lodge 609 and Mary A. Carter Temple 362 of the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World (I.B.P.O.E. of W.), located at 69 Beekman Street. The public is invited to share in a short program celebrating the legacy of Juneteenth with historical insight, dramatic offerings, inspiring words, unifying and uplifting music...topped off with a cake and ice cream. The I.B.P.O.E. of W., incorporated in 1898, is the largest international Black fraternal organization - with over 1,500 lodges and 500,000 members worldwide - and provides and performs charitable services in communities throughout the world, promoting Harmony, Friendship, and Unity among their esteemed members. Click here for more information. 

The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation celebrates Juneteenth with the exclusive tour, "Brandtville Boogie," to be held on Sunday, June 19, with Carol Daggs. This fun, family-friendly walking tour will invite guests to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Saratoga Springs neighborhood historically known as Brandtville. Dating back to the 1800s, this historically African American rural farming community is located at the southeastern edge of the city, highlighting Crescent Street and Doten Avenue. This area was also known as the Gaslands for its high carbon dioxide levels from the mineral springs. Many residents of this area found employment in the grand hotels, restaurants, or at the racecourse. This tour encourages participants to look for the oldest homes in the neighborhood and identify other interesting remnants that remain in Brandtville. This tour, sponsored by TOGA Heritage, meets at the driveway of 29 Doten Avenue at 10:30am. Order tickets online and reserve your spot! 

A Juneteenth Celebration with Sidney Outlaw will be held at the GE Theatre at Proctors on Sunday, June 19 at 2:30pm. Opera Saratoga's second annual Juneteenth concert features baritone Sidney Outlaw, who will make his opera debut with the company as Figaro in the The Barber of Seville later in the season. 

Saratoga Black Lives Matter will host their Juneteenth event on Monday, June 20 at 2:00pm at the Saratoga Spa State Park's Orenda Pavilion. Co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Greater NY, featuring music by Mundy, food, art-making, games for kids, voter registration and community building.