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Celebrating Juneteenth
Posted 6/16/22

Juneteenth became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, when the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was signed into law by President Biden. In California, AB 1655 was introduced to make Juneteenth an official holiday in the State, but the legislation has not yet been passed by the California Senate or been signed into law by the California governor. Until then, our offices and summer schools will be open in accordance with the district calendar

The Meaning of Juneteenth

The holiday commemorates the end of slavery by marking the day enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned they were free, nearly two years after the Civil War ended and the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863. Juneteenth is a day of celebration and reflection. It is traditionally celebrated on June 19 and combines the words “June” and “nineteenth.” 

The Events of the First Juneteenth - June 19, 1865

On June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger went to Galveston, Texas, and read out General Order #3 to tell people that the Civil War was finally over, that the Union had won, and — crucially — that the Union now had the capacity to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. According to the Order, enslaved people would now be treated as hired workers if they chose to remain on the plantations where they had been working, but they were also free to leave. Unsurprisingly, many people chose to leave. 

Juneteenth marks an important milestone in African-Americans’ ongoing quest for equity and justice in the United States. While true equity remains an ongoing challenge in the United States, Juneteenth marks a significant and celebratory moment in the process of racial and social justice and equity. 

SCUSD’s Commitment to Equity and Social Justice

More than 150 years later, honoring this day helps us learn our history and acknowledge the experiences of African Americans that shaped this nation.

This tradition of celebrating Juneteenth acknowledges and condemns the atrocities and degradation of our shared past and honors resilience in the face of injustice and inhumanity. We simultaneously acknowledge the historical relevance of this significant event, the generational trauma that accompanies being subject to racism, discrimination and prejudice, and the institutional barriers to equity and access that continue to exist. 

Honoring this day helps us learn our history and acknowledge the experiences of African Americans that shaped this nation. As a community, we continue to be committed to promoting equity, access, and social justice through our vision, our 2021-2026 strategic plan Innovating for Equity and Excellence, our equity and social justice committee, and recent board resolutions.

Learn More About the History of Juneteenth 

Attend a Bay Area Event

Book Resources

Other Ways to Celebrate