Today is Juneteenth. If you are online you’ll likely notice that  Today’s Google Doodle is honoring Juneteenth. 

The animation on the search engine’s homepage shows important chapters in American history, such as African Americans becoming landowners and getting the right to vote.  The musical doodle is accompanied by a reading of the poem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” by poet James Weldon Johnson, read by actor LeVar Burton. 

If you are just learning about the date you aren’t alone. We are here to outline the basics of what today is and what it means.

Today is Juneteenth.  June 19th commemorates the ending of slavery in the U.S.  The origin of the holiday comes from June 19th, 1865, when General Gordon Granger of the Union army arrived with soldiers in Galveston, Texas, and told enslaved African Americans there that the Civil War had ended and they were free, more than two years after President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  

Juneteenth is now celebrated in black communities across the U.S., and some have called for it to become a national holiday.  Nearly all states recognize Juneteenth with some limited special status, and this year, the NFL, Nike and Twitter have all recognized Juneteenth as a company holiday. 

Juneteenth gained extra exposure this year because of President Trump’s decision to hold a campaign rally on June 19th in Tulsa, Oklahoma, scene of one of the worst race riots in American history.  The Tulsa Historical Museum says historians believe as many as 300 African Americans were killed in the 1921 race riot in city’s Greenwood District.  Trump was heavily criticized for the decision, and later tweeted that he would hold his Tulsa rally on the 20th instead. 

As today takes on a new significance in the country.  Correspondent Bill Zimpfer has more on what today is all about. Click below to hear more.

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