Why Do We Celebrate Juneteenth? Columbians Share the History and How They Observe the Day

For many, especially in the southern United States and particularly in Texas, Juneteenth has been an emancipation celebration observed for generations. It commemorates the announcement of General Order No. 3, proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. That day was when every enslaved person in the U.S. finally knew that they were free and the institution came to an end.

It’s possible that you’re among the many people just coming to understand the holiday. Columbia invites you to dig into the history it honors and mark it in one way or another. This year, for the second time, the university will observe Juneteenth.

This Columbia mini-doc uncovers the backstory—historical and personal—of Juneteenth, as told by a collection of our students, scholars, and staff. We thank all of them for sharing their voices and experiences.