ROANOKE, Va. – On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger led a force of Union soldiers into Galveston, Texas to relay a message of freedom to about 250,000 enslaved people in the community.
Two years prior to the announcement, the Confederacy surrendered, concluding the Civil War. Galveston was the last town in the nation to hear the news of freedom, and it came two and a half years after former President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all enslaved people in Southern states.
While Texas was the last Confederate state to free its slaves, slavery was still in effect in border states until the 13th Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865.
Now, June 19, referred to as Juneteenth, is recognized by 48 states and Washington, D.C. as a state holiday or ceremonial holiday commemorating the emancipation of slavery in the U.S.
This week, Congress passed legislation to make Juneteenth the 11th federal holiday, and on Thursday, President Joe Biden signed the bill into law.
In honor of Juneteenth, we’ve compiled a list of celebrations you can take part in to honor an integral moment in Black history.
Floyd - Saturday from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Floyd CARE (Community Action for Racial Equity) will host a Juneteenth Celebration at Warren G. Lineberry Community Park in Floyd, Virginia. Join them in the celebration where there will be music, local speakers and more. You can also donate to the organization’s GoFundMe to help pay for the event, business sponsorships of $150 or more will be recognized at the event.
Covington - Saturday from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Alleghany Highlands NAACP will host its Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration at Jeter Watson Park, 524 East Pine Street, Covington, VA 24426. The event will have Juneteenth history lessons, guest speakers, drumline, spiritual music, food and children’s activities.
Appomattox - Saturday from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
This weekend, Appomattox for Equality will be hosting its 2nd annual Juneteenth event in Courtland Field in historic downtown Appomattox. There, people will have the opportunity to reflect, learn and celebrate Juneteenth, the oldest national commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S.
Lexington - Saturday from Noon - 7 p.m.
This event will include a myriad of activities to honor Juneteenth such as an art show, Kuumba Dance ensembles, West African drum and dance performances, live music and a free raffle that’ll give participants the chance to win gift certificates. From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. events will be held at Hopkin’s Green and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. events will be held on Washington Street, which is between South Jefferson Street and South Main Street.
Roanoke - Saturday from Noon - 6 p.m.
There will be a Juneteenth Family Reunion at Eureka Park, 1529 Carroll Ave NW, Roanoke, Virginia. There will be entertainment, food, beverages, history lessons and activities for those in the Star City to take part in.
Lynchburg - Saturday at 1 p.m.
If you find it hard to make it to any of these events, the Lynchburg Juneteenth Coalition will be holding a Juneteenth virtual program which will be live-streamed from the Academy Center of the Arts.
Clifton Forge - Saturday at 2 p.m.
Alleghany Commission on Racial Equality is hosting a Juneteenth event at the Historic Masonic Theatre in Clifton Forge, Virginia. There, the organization will show Spike Lee’s award-winning film, BlacKkKlansman, which will be followed by a Q&A session with film writer David Rabinowitz in the parking lot behind the theater. While the event will be free, donations will be accepted. Refreshments will be available for sale during the film and food will also be provided after the film during the Q&A session.
Christiansburg - Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Christiansburg Institute and Buzz4good will host a free event at 140 Scattergood Drive in Christiansburg, Virginia in honor of Juneteenth. This marks its 2nd annual Juneteenth celebration honoring Black lives and Black history.
Danville - Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
You can celebrate the holiday while basking in the sun and enjoying music from DJ Toya and DJ B-Stupid at the Carrington Pavilion. During the event, there will be Kuumba Dancers and Fred Motely who will relay Black history through movement and oral storytelling. Doors will open at 3 p.m. and people are asked to wear masks at the event. Registration is required. Call 434-799-5150 for more information.
Lexington Juneteenth Art Show: Together We Rise - June 3-26
If you love artwork, an art exhibit is displaying art with a message. The Nelson Gallery has unveiled a “Together We Rise” art exhibit in honor of Juneteenth. The art gallery is open from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. On Saturday, there will be an art gallery reception where it’ll give out up to $2,000 in prizes.