On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation became official, making slavery illegal in the United States and declaring all slaves free:
I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free.
Two and a half years later, on June 19th,1865, the news of the Executive Order and, more importantly, the power to enforce it, finally reached Texas. The enforcement was necessary. The Emancipation Proclamation itself had little impact on Texans due to the will of the enslavers to continue trading in persons as commodities and the lack of Union troops to prohibit them. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to uphold the proclamation's pledge that "the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons."
The rejoicing that day was the beginning of what would become an annual rite of celebration, Juneteenth.
On June 17th, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
>>>CLICK HERE to learn more about the history of Juneteenth.
>>>CLICK HERE for Juneteenth observances/celebrations around Chicago.