“Then, thenceforward, and forever free”
These words, issued on January 1, 1863 in the Emancipation Proclamation, were finally heard by the enslaved people in Texas on June 19, 1865. Join the Harvard community in celebrating and exploring the history of Juneteenth.
- The Harvard Gazette
The holiday and how to celebrate it
Annette Gordon-Reed details how the Texas community honored the Juneteenth anniversary and what we gain from celebrating it as a nation.
What does Juneteenth mean to you?
Join the Harvard community in sharing your thoughts on Juneteenth.
I am excited about the thickening archive of stories that depict how African Americans inhabited and commemorated their freedom."
Associate Professor of African American Religions at Harvard Divinity School; Suzanne Young Murray Assistant Professor at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
It should always be a day we all reflect on our journey to become a more just and fair society—in every way."
Head coach, Harvard Basketball
Explore these interviews and resources to better understand where Juneteenth came from and how it’s being celebrated today.
What is Juneteenth?
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explains the enduring legacy and expanding reach of the holiday.
The meaning of Juneteenth
The Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Jarvis Givens describes the history and significance of the day—and speculates on whether its celebratory promise can be fulfilled.
The importance of Juneteenth
Senior Lecturer Henry McGee and Harvard Business School alum Caleb Bradford talk about Juneteenth: what it is and why it’s important.
We’re not celebrating the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, but … the change in the material conditions of folks on the ground."
Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Ph.D. student; member of the W.E.B. Du Bois Graduate Society Steering Committee
How the news spread
Houghton Library built a digital collection related to Black American history for the online collection “Slavery, Abolition, Emancipation, and Freedom: Primary Sources from Houghton Library.”
A jubilee fundraiser for formerly enslaved people
Boston threw a grand jubilee concert on January 1, 1863, in honor of the day the emancipation proclamation freed enslaved people. The proceeds from ticket sales went to benefit freed people.
The Emancipation Proclamation
The first and only contemporary printing of the Emancipation Proclamation in book form. Issued by Boston industrialist and abolitionist John Murray Forbes for distribution by Union troops.
In commemoration of emancipation in Maryland
Northern cities like Philadelphia announced emancipation in nearby states—this 1864 print shows an announcement of emancipation in nearby Maryland.
I now view Juneteenth as the true Independence Day, because that was the day when all Americans got their freedom."
Class of 2022 alum; co-founder of the Generational African American Student Association
Holidays like Juneteenth exist not only to celebrate how far we have come but to also demonstrate that we still have a long way to go."
Class of 2022 alum; former president of the Harvard Black Students Association
Working toward a world without slavery
Slavery, forced labor, and human trafficking are global problems that the Harvard community is working to end forever.