Celebrating Juneteenth in New York

Although slavery in New York State was abolished on July 4, 1827, the institution of slavery in the United States did not officially come to an end for another thirty-eight years. On June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the end of the Civil War, enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were finally liberated.

Juneteenth, also known as Black Independence Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Emancipation Day, was first celebrated by African Americans across the Southern United States in 1866. Today, it is celebrated across the nation, often with parades, live music, performers, and speakers with the goal to educate, empower, and entertain celebrants. On June 17th, 2020, Juneteenth was declared an official New York State holiday.

The Great Pan-American Emancipation Celebration

This medal with ribbon from the NYSM History Collection is from the Great Pan-American Emancipation Celebration that took place in Waverly, New York, on August 1, 1901. Many black New Yorkers waited until July 5th to celebrate each year thinking it was ironic to celebrate independence day when their brothers and sisters were still in bondage elsewhere in the county. Emancipation celebrations continued to be celebrated in New York State well into the mid-20th century.

Additional Resources

Jazz, by Romare Bearden,1980

NYSM Black History Resource Page

Discover a variety of educational resources and online programs about the experiences of Black New Yorkers available from the New York State Museum.

Juneteenth Across New York State

From the Banner:

Emancipation, print by Thomas Nast, c. 1865

Thomas Nast 
Emancipation, c. 1865
Courtesy of the Library of Congress