Join the museum’s Juneteenth celebration – during the entire month of June – and embrace the rich history of Freedom Day each week.
On June 19, 1865, nearly two years after President Abraham Lincoln emancipated enslaved Africans in America, Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas with news of freedom. More than 250,000 African Americans embraced freedom by executive decree in what became known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day. With the principles of self-determination, citizenship, and democracy magnifying their hopes and dreams, those Texans held fast to the promise of true liberty for all.
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."Gordon GrangerUnion General, June 19, 1865
The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth
With the end of slavery, searching for family members who had been separated or sold away became the focus of many formerly enslaved individuals. The number of years of separation did not deter people from hoping to reunite with lost loved ones. Newspaper advertisements, letters and word of mouth were all employed as part of the search. The hope was that a positive response might lead to a reunion with family members.
Emancipation and Educating the Newly Freed
Freedmen's Bureau Search Portal
Smithsonian Transcription Center
Office of Sub Asst. Comr. Bur. R.F. & A.L.
sixth Sub District of Texas
Columbus Tex June 12th 1867.
Lieut. J.T. Kirkman U.S.A.
Supt. of Education
Bur. R.F. & A.L.
The freedpeople of this County are to celebrate the anniversary of their Emancipation
on Saturday June 24th. The schools of this District
will form a feature of the day's enjoyment in making
short addresses + singing songs and hymns. It has been suggested that Prizes be
distributed on that day to those of the children
who have received the highest averages for good conduct and application to study.
Will the Bureau furnish these say 10 or 15 handsome Bibles and a
few other good Books for the occasion?
Your Obd't Servt
Enon M. Harris
S.A. Comr.Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Texas Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870, Letters Received, Unregistered Letters Received
Explore the symbolism of red foods as a sign of resilience and joy. The color red is highly associated with the cultures that would've come through the later years of the TransAtlantic slave trade, which would have been Yoruba and Kongo. People from the Yoruba of Nigeria, Benin, and Togo; and the Kongo of Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Congo and Gabon—placed great philosophical and spiritual value in the color red as it symbolizes sacrifice, transition and power.
Sweet Home Cafe Juneteenth Menu
Our Juneteenth menu is available June 16 - 22, 2023
In 2021, Juneteenth was established as a federal holiday, opening it to symbolic and global interpretation and providing a better understanding of the evolution of our nation and its people. Juneteenth celebrations then, like now, recognize the ongoing fight for human rights and equality and are commemorated through family cookouts, faith services, musical performances and storytelling. Today, Juneteenth celebrates African American resilience and achievement while aiding in the preservation of those historical narratives that promoted racial and personal advancement since Freedom Day.
"As we continue to celebrate Juneteenth as a federal holiday, we remember and recognize how the Black community continues to make a way out of no way, overcoming trials and celebrating triumphs while honoring the place and price of freedom."Kevin YoungAndrew W. Mellon Director, NMAAHC
Juneteenth Community Day
Senses of Freedom: The Taste, Sound, and Experience of an African American Celebration
Saturday, June 17, 2023 - 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Video Header Credit: Film 26, 1926, 1928, undated. Solomon Sir Jones Films. Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.