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Juneteenth (short for "June 19") is the oldest celebrated commemoration of ending slavery in the United States. Also known as "Juneteenth Independence Day," "Freedom Day," or "Emancipation Day," Juneteenth is observed by many through gathering with family and community, and/or attending  educational and celebratory events. 

How did Juneteenth begin?
On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans that the Civil War was over, and that they were now free. Although freedom didn't happen overnight for everyone—some enslavers withheld the information until after the season's harvest—celebrations began within newly freed Black communities, and Juneteenth was born. In December of 1865, slavery in America was formally abolished with the 13th Amendment.

The following year, on June 19, freedmen in Texas organized the first annual "Jubilee Day" celebration. In the ensuing decades, Juneteenth commemorations featured music, barbecues, and prayer services among other activities. In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday with several other states following suit over the years. Congress passed a resolution establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday in June 2021; President Biden signed it into law on June 17, 2021. 

How to Celebrate Juneteenth Locally?

When: Saturday, June 17 | 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Where: San Bernardino Valley College, 701 South Mount Vernon Ave., San Bernardino

What: Vendors, live performances, speakers, kid zone, spade and domino tournaments, food, family activities, and more. Free to attend. Presented by the Juneteenth Committee of San Bernardino. 

When: Saturday, June 17 | 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Where: Centennial Regional Park, 3000 W. Edinger Ave., Santa Ana

What: Exhibitors, vendors, food, live entertainment, and toy giveaways. Free event and parking. Presented by Orange County Heritage Council and the City of Santa Ana. 

When: Sunday, June 18 | 11:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m

Where: Great Park Palm Court, 8000 Great Park Blvd., Irvine

What: Speakers, vendors, performances, food trucks, and interactive activities. Free to attend, and free parking is available on site. Presented by the City of Irvine.


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