• Chris Brent, president of the Tipton County branch of the NAACP, chops barbecue during the inaugural Juneteenth celebration Saturday, June 18, 2016.

Juneteenth has entered the mainstream discussion lately after several states have decided to observe it as a holiday. Tennessee is considering doing the same.

But what is Juneteenth?

The holiday commemorates the abolition of slavery and falls on the anniversary of its announcement in Texas on June 19, 1865, two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.


Because Texas was not a battleground state, its slaves were not affected by the emancipation order unless they escaped.

During the Civil War, planters and other shareholders moved to Texas to avoid Union reach. This increased the number of slaves in the Galveston and Houston areas from 1,000 in 1860 to 250,000 by the end of the war in 1865.

New of the war’s end, and the legal end of slavery, spread slowly to these areas because of Texas’s isolating geography. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger read from the Ashton Villa General Order No. 3, delivering news of the emancipation.

Juneteenth, which comes from “June nineteenth,” has been celebrated as Freedom Day since 1866.

In 2016, the Tipton County NAACP hosted the first-known – and only, to date – Juneteenth celebration in Covington.

There was a town hall meeting for politicians to talk to the public, barbecue and former alderman John Edwards played DJ as dozens of people gathered to celebrate.

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.