A hibiscus flower.

Juneteenth—What Is It?

Eating red foods on Juneteenth is tradition, as the color represents the struggle of African Americans during enslavement. Hibiscus flowers, which are native to West Africa, are dried, crushed and stewed to make tea. Image by suraram from Pixabay.

When we first heard of Juneteenth, we didn’t know what it was. So The Ohio Experience did some research. Here are some facts about this important day in American history.

Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19. It is also known as Freedom Day or Liberation Day. It is currently not a national holiday, but it is a state holiday in Texas. Now many states in the U.S. observe Juneteenth.

It was on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas that Union Army General Gordon Granger proclaimed the federal order that all slaves in the state of Texas were free. Although President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had officially outlawed slavery almost two and a half years earlier, slavery still existed in Texas. That’s because Texas was geographically removed from other states in the Union, so it had been difficult to enforce the banning of slavery until Granger’s announcement.

Juneteenth celebrations in the United States include prayer and religious services, parades, educational events, family gatherings, food festivals, music and dancing. The color red is dominant on June 19th. It symbolizes the struggle of slaves and the blood they lost in their quest for their freedom. Red foods like watermelon, red velvet cake and hibiscus tea are commonplace.

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