Juneteenth – 4 Facts About Freedom You Didn’t Learn In School


In recent years, as society becomes more attuned to the value of diversity and inclusion, an increasing number of employers have started to recognize Juneteenth.

Some are marking the holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in America by giving employees the day off, while others may host awareness-raising events or organize their workforce to give back to a charitable organization. No matter how organizations pay tribute, it can be a valuable lesson for all workers.

However, lessons about the freedoms that Juneteenth stands for very well may not have been part of your elementary school history class. If you want to do your part to honor the history and spirit behind Juneteenth this year, check out these important—yet, often overlooked—facts about freedom. And then commit yourself to embracing freedom in your own life!

Juneteenth was a long time coming

While the emancipation of enslaved people happened in 1865, it didn’t start being recognized by the U.S. government until just two years ago! Lawmakers first started pushing for the recognition in 1996; however, African-American people across the country have long held their own celebrations to honor the occasion—from backyard family events to city and community parades—with Juneteenth considered the longest-running African-American holiday.

Early celebrations were called Jubilees

The modern celebratory nature of Juneteenth is rooted in tradition that goes back a century-and-a-half. In Civil War-era America, when a slave would be freed—as there was no one singular day that liberated all slaves—it was called their “day of jubilee,” in reference to the Bible. And in the 1800s, once the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, communities around the country celebrated “Jubilee Day” every year—the predecessor of Juneteenth.

Freed slaves were pivotal in the country’s shaping

As the Emancipation Proclamation rolled out to Confederate states, significant numbers of freed slaves joined the ranks of the Union military, continuing to fight for anti-slavery causes through the end of the Civil War. In fact, nearly 200,000 Black men are credited with helping the North become victorious in winning freedom for all enslaved people.

Freedom is a goal

The end of slavery was only just over 150 years ago—and while progress has been made, freedom for all Americans is still something to strive for. From the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the leadership of people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to more recent widespread protests for racial equity, the fight for freedom hasn’t been wont yet—but still continues.