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is today, and 2022 marks the second year it’s been an official federal holiday. President Joe Biden signed the last year, making it the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was added in . 

A portmanteau of the date it’s celebrated, Juneteenth commemorates the freedom of enslaved Black people in the US. It’s also known as Freedom Day or Jubilee Day.

“The emancipation of enslaved Black Americans didn’t mark the end of America’s work to deliver on the promise of equality; it only marked the beginning,” just before signing the Juneteenth holiday into law. “To honor the true meaning of Juneteenth, we have to continue toward that promise because we’ve not gotten there yet.”

The observation of Juneteenth stretches back to 1865, but the holiday gained significant national attention in 2020, after the deaths of , , ,  and others sparked  against police brutality and systematic violence aimed at Black Americans.

Here’s what to know about Juneteenth, including the history of the day, how and when it’s observed, how you can celebrate and which states have made it a public holiday.

Educate yourself and reflect: While slavery ended in 1865, racism persists in countless institutions. Use June 19 as a day to reflect on critical issues that perpetuate discrimination against Black people in America and around the world. Spend the day reading about Juneteenth’s history, including how Black families felt after being emancipated. Watch the , or engage with other  that can help reveal real-world, present-day issues. 

Watch online Juneteenth events: Tune in virtually to the or and find a listing of local events where you live.

Place a sign in your front yard: Raise awareness and show your support for Juneteenth by decorating a sign for your front yard or door. This is a great way to help educate younger kids in your neighborhood who may not know about the holiday.

Celebrate with a barbecue or family meal: Gather your family together to celebrate freedom. Since the pandemic is still a serious concern, make sure you’re following your state’s guidelines for indoor group gatherings (here are the ). If you’re celebrating indoors, we recommend opening windows for ventilation.

Juneteenth only comes once a year, but there are more ways you can help your community all year long — for instance, .

In which states is Juneteenth a paid holiday?

While many states celebrate Juneteenth as a holiday, these are the states that observe it as a paid holiday. Note that many cities in the states not listed also recognize it as a paid holiday.

  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
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  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington

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