Americans solemnly celebrate Juneteenth after Charleston shooting

An illustration depicts newly freed slaves in the mid-1800s. (Shutterstock)

On June 19, 1865, the news of the end of slavery was read publicly in Galveston, Texas. After this, more than 250,000 slaves across Texas learned that they were finally free.

The holiday, known today as "Juneteenth," celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.

It is considered by many to be the end of slavery, though it came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The Proclamation was issued on Jan. 1, 1863, ending slavery in certain states that had seceded, the Library of Congress explains.

There are several theories as to why it took so long for the news to reach Texas. Juneteenth.com, a website established in 1997 to commemorate the holiday, compiled several of these theories. A messenger may have been murdered, some speculate. Information may have been deliberately withheld -- perhaps even by federal troops -- for the benefit of the crop harvest. Finally, it's possible that President Lincoln's authority was not being heeded by those with the ability to free the slaves, the site explains.

African Americans in Texas treated the day as their Independence Day, according to the Texas State Library. It spread to other states and has been celebrated every year since.

This year's Juneteenth comes just two days after a gunman killed nine people during a Bible study at a historic black church. Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., was once burned to the ground for its role in a planned a slave revolt in 1822.

As the country continues to mourn for the victims, many took to social media to express that the day was tinged with sadness in the wake of the shooting.


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societyholidayblack historycharleston shootinghistorywatercooler

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