It took two whole years after President Abraham Lincoln declared the abolition of slavery on January 1, 1863, for the end of one of the darkest chapters in American history to take hold.
The Emancipation Proclamation marked the end of the legalized institution of slavery in America, but in the small town of Galveston Island, Texas, black slaves had been carrying on their lives of bondage and subjugation, oblivious to the fact that they were actually free.
On June 19th, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and his band of Union soldiers (who had been traveling throughout the South for two years spreading the word) arrived at Galveston Island to tell the last remaining slaves in the United States that they were finally free.
The day became known as "Juneteenth," a kind of Independence Day for African-Americans, a day of celebration and remembrance. Juneteenth is a state holiday in Texas, and is officially celebrated in 43 states in America, usually with parades, barbecues and memorial ceremonies.
But Juneteenth isn't recognized as a federal holiday (though attempts have been made), and for that reason few people get to publicly celebrate it or are even aware of its existence and legacy. And that's a shame, because Juneteenth is an opportunity for black people to truly celebrate all that they've overcome through the power of community.
Below are photos of Juneteenth celebrations across the country, over the years, that capture the beauty of the holiday: