Today we celebrate June 19, 1865, the day that slaves in Texas were told about the Emancipation Proclamation, two years after it was enacted. Newly freed slaves in Texas celebrated the first Juneteenth in 1866, making it the oldest known celebration of the day. This past Thursday, President Biden signed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, the national day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

The flag (above) was designed by local activist Ben Haith in 1997 with input by many other contributors over the years. The star represents Texas with the burst being the new freedom throughout the land over the horizon, symbolized by the arch of red. It was first hoisted at the Roxbury Heritage State Park in Boston in 2000.

This quote by by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. provides thoughtful reflection for the day: “If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned tho’ we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.”

Visit this GBH resource page for programs and resources for more information and history.


Boston City Hall