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Freedom Day: Celebrate Juneteenth at St. Frederick’s

Emancipation by Thomas Nast

Thomas Nast engraving 'Emancipation,' published c1865 by printers King & Baird of Philadelphia. According to the Library of Congress, Nast envisioned a 'somewhat optimistic picture of the future of free Blacks in the United States' with the central scene showing 'the interior of a freedman's home with the family gathered around a "Union" wood stove.' President Abraham Lincoln is pictured below. Scenes contrasting Black people's lives in the South under the Confederacy with visions of a life after the Civil War surround the central image.

St. Frederick’s Baptist Church in Marble Falls invites everyone to join them on Saturday, June 17, to celebrate Juneteenth, the newest federal holiday. 

“We will start at 11 a.m. and go until we get tired,” said Bessie Jackson, chair of the church’s Black History Museum project. “We’ll be serving barbecue and talking to former church members who have moved away but know the history of the city.” 

A national holiday since 2021, Juneteenth (June 19) celebrates the day that Texas slaves first heard they were free, 2½ years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. The Civil War, which was fought from 1861-65, was at its midpoint in an era when news traveled by horseback. 

Union soldiers read copies of the documents aloud at plantations and in Southern cities as the war progressed, spreading the news. The war was over when they reached the shores of Galveston Bay to deliver word to the 250,000 slaves in Texas, the westernmost Confederate state. The very first Juneteenth celebration was held exactly one year later. By then, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed the abolishment of slavery, had been ratified. That happened on Dec. 6, 1865. 

The holiday was officially recognized in Texas in 1979. It became the 11th federal holiday when approved by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on June 17, 2021. The bill was popular in Congress. The House of Representatives approved it 415 to 24. It went on to the Senate, where the vote was unanimous.

Juneteenth will be officially observed with the closing of government offices, banks, and the post office on Monday, June 19, this year. In 2024, Juneteenth falls on a Sunday, so the official observation will be Monday, June 20.

To Jackson, the holiday should be a day of celebration for everyone, not just descendants of slaves. 

“Everybody whose freedom has been forfeited in some form or fashion should celebrate,” she said. “It should be a celebration of freedom for everyone.” 


Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Passed by Congress on Jan. 31, 1865; ratified on Dec. 6, 1865.