Juneteenth events celebrate the end of slavery in the United States

Singer Gladys Knight performs during the Juneteenth Concert at the White House on June 10. Photo by Ting Shen/POOL/EPA-EFE
Singer Gladys Knight performs during the Juneteenth Concert at the White House on June 10. Photo by Ting Shen/POOL/EPA-EFE

June 19 (UPI) -- Juneteenth holiday events across the nation celebrate and memorialize June 19 in 1865, when 250,000 slaves in Texas were granted their freedom following the Civil War.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday issued a proclamation honoring the Juneteenth day of observance.

"Today, we recognize that Juneteenth not only marks the end of America's original sin of slavery, but also the beginning of the work at the heart and soul of our nation -- making the promise of America real for every American," Biden said.

"Juneteenth is an acknowledgment of the truth of our nation's history," Biden said. "It is about realizing the idea that America was founded on: All people are created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout their lives."

Juneteenth celebrates the final triumph of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation that freed all slaves in the former Confederate states and the eventual ratification of the 13th Amendment that abolishes slavery everywhere in the United States and its territories.

President Joe Biden hosted the White House Juneteenth Concert and issued a proclamation on Tuesday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPE-EFE
President Joe Biden hosted the White House Juneteenth Concert and issued a proclamation on Tuesday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPE-EFE

President Abraham Lincoln and more than 618,000 soldiers gave their lives during the struggle to abolish slavery.

Congress passed a resolution that Lincoln on Feb. 1, 1865, signed the 13th Amendment, which then went to states for ratification.

The 13th Amendment reads: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to its jurisdiction."

The White House hosted an early Juneteenth celebration on June 10th. The nation's capital is hosting several holiday activities on Wednesday and through the weekend.

The Juneteenth events include an exhibit of painter William H. Johnson's "Fighters of Freedom" series honoring Black activists and others, including Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and Marian Anderson. The free exhibit is located at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art is hosting a "Five Murmurations" visual-essay exhibit by filmmaker and artist John Akomfrah. The exhibit commemorates much of the seminal events of 2020, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter unrest in works of art and film clips.

Additional Juneteenth events in the nation's capital include those scheduled at Tudor Place, the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and The Phillips Collection.

Most of the Juneteenth events in Washington D.C. are free.

Some 1,400 miles away in Galveston, Texas, a 45th Annual Juneteenth Proclamation Reading was held late Wednesday morning at Ashton Villa. The event also honored former Texas State Rep. Al Edwards, who sponsored legislation that made Juneteenth Day a state holiday in 1979.

Galveston is notable because that is where federal Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and federal troops read the Emancipation Proclamation and effectively freed the state's 250,000 slaves on June 19, 1865.

Granger's actions were the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation and made former slaves in Texas aware that Lincoln officially freed them 2.5 years earlier.

Other notable celebrations were or are scheduled in Houston, Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Chicago, Memphis, Atlanta and many other cities and communities.

Vice President Kamala Harris headlined a Juneteenth Block Party in Atlanta on Tuesday. A rodeo in nearby Marietta on Wednesday honored the legacy of Black ranchers, farmers, cowboys and cowgirls.

Other events feature concerts, beauty pageants, parades and other community events to honor the official abolishment of slavery throughout the United States and its territories.

While countless Juneteenth events are scheduled Wednesday and through the weekend, previously scheduled celebrations on city properties in Akron, Ohio, are canceled.

Akron Mayor Shammas Malik on Friday announced the cancellations after eight Akron City Council members expressed their concerns about holding the events so soon after a recent mass shooting.

One or more unidentified shooters killed one and wounded 28 while shooting from an SUV into a crowd celebrating a birthday party at a private residence after midnight on June 2.