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What is Juneteenth?

Written by Rev. Kyle Walker, N4DR

Juneteenth is the commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It is so named because on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, to ensure that the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced in Texas. This was 2 ½ years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became law on January 1, 1863.


In my last church, I was working through the church office holidays in the personnel manual (I know, it’s the last thing we think of while reading the Great Ends of the Church!).


That’s just the thing though, in working with the session on this I found out that we tried to follow the state holidays, so I looked at the state holidays and noted we in fact took off for all the state holidays except one…Juneteenth. And we were closed for Columbus Day.


It occurred to me that right there in front of me was a way to BEGIN to decolonize our office culture. We swapped Columbus Day for Juneteenth bringing more awareness to our history and present consciousness on race. Small step but it has caused Juneteenth to stick with me ever since.

Holy Day of Remembrance

Written by Rev. Kyle Walker, N4DR

For the first time this year, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation Board of Trustees voted to make Juneteenth an official holy day of remembrance during its November 2020 meeting. They issued the following statement:


“The Presbyterian Foundation is giving sustained, intentional focus on our strategic priority of diversity, equity, and inclusion in who we are as a Board and as a staff, cultivating a culture of education of, conscientization in, and proficiency in dynamics of historical, institutional, and systemic racism,” says Rev. Dr. Neal Presa, Chair of the Presbyterian Foundation Board of Trustees. “Juneteenth is a sacred day of reckoning for the Church, and we dare say, for our nation, as it brings to attention the delay of more than two and a half years for official word to reach enslaved Blacks in Texas that the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued years prior. The tragedy of that gap in time — of justice delayed was justice denied — calls forth our collective wills that we as Christians and as a people can never rest until the fulness of racial equality and racial equity is realized.”


Image by Brian McMahon

Presbyterian Historical Society

Juneteenth Day (June 19th of every year) marks Major General Gordon Granger's announcement of the abolition of slavery ...

Image by Paul Morley

Juneteenth: Celebration or Not?
By Rev. Shanea D. Leonard

Every year since 1865, there has been one day that most black people have held as a celebratory occurrence. On ....

Image by Kristian Løvstad

Juneteenth in the age of Black Lives Matter
by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. President Abraham ...

Juneteenth Flag


Click an image to learn more about this holiday.

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Image by Joseph Chan
Read about Juneteenth

See our Juneteenth Book List and more by visiting

Juneteenth: Connecting the Historic to the Now

This video is a panel discussion with the Author of On Juneteenth and others  explore the origins of Juneteenth through the lens of federal vs states' rights and discuss the historical and current political significance of the holiday.  It's from the National Museum of African American History & Culture.

Black communities across the country have been celebrating Juneteenth for years
Give Back.

Volunteer at a local civil rights organization or community center. Donate to an organization like Equal Justice Initiative,   black girls code, or any of these 168 groups.

Visit a Local Museum of African American History
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