On this day in 1865, over two years after Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the last of the African American slaves were freed in Galveston, Texas.
Accompanied by 2,000 federal troops, Union Major General Gordon Granger read General Order No. 3 which called for "absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property" and formally liberated those who remained in bondage.
The day came to be called Juneteenth (shortening the date, June 19th), a celebration of freedom for over 250,000 slaves at the close of the Civil War.
"It's the African Americans' Fourth of July," performer Erma Bush said.
By 2006, the holiday had spread to 18 states and more than 200 cities. The celebration has evolved into an event for "all races, ethnicities and nationalities - as nothing is more comforting than the hand of a friend," according to the official Juneteenth website.
Juneteenth emphasizes self-actualization, education, and achievement. It is a time for reconciliation and healing with parades, narrative readings, picnics, and dancing.
"We're trying to bring everyone together. It's a day of unity. It doesn't matter your race, creed, any of that. We just want to celebrate as a people and enjoy each other's company and celebrate our freedom," said Lenita Williams.
Together, for harmony.