This year marks the 145th anniversary of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.

But if you ask any school kid today about the celebration, they probably would know nothing about it.

Even many African-American adults, like Renee Adams, 68, of West Palm Beach, had never heard of the commemoration until contacted by a reporter.

Charlene Jones, educational program director at the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum in Delray Beach, says that like Kwanzaa, Juneteenth is an African-American celebration that may not be as widely known as other holidays, but nonetheless has great significance.       

It was June 19th, 1865 when Union Soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed in Galveston, Texas with the news that enslaved Africans were now free. This was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves, which became official on January 1, 1863.

So why did it take two years for the news to reach Texas? There were not enough Union troops to enforce the Executive Order signed by President Abraham Lincoln, freeing the slaves. Finally, two years later, the troops were strong enough to overcome
resistance and thus, they brought the good news to Galveston, marking the Juneteenth celebration.    

Today, throughout South Florida and across the nation, Juneteenth commemorates African-American freedom and achievement. It is a time for reflection, rejoicing and self assessment. Celebrations take place on June 19 or sometimes for a full week, or even the entire month of June.  The celebrations are marked by gatherings that often feature skits or guest speakers, or even picnics.

Some Juneteenth celebrants see it as a time to give back to the African-American community.  The South Florida Chapter of Blacks in Government is holding a
Juneteenth Scholarship Banquet in Key Biscayne on June 18, for example, with the purpose of awarding scholarships to deserving Miami-Dade students.

The Old Dillard Museum in Fort Lauderdale will hold a jazz carnival on June 19.

Also, Crane’s Beach House Hotel and Tiki Bar in Delray Beach is hosting a Juneteenth party fundraiser on June 17 to benefit the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, which seeks to preserve African and African-American history in Palm Beach County.

To find out more about Juneteenth, or for more information about nationwide celebrations, visit,


Palm Beach County

Spady Cultural Heritage Museum and Crane’s Beach House Hotel & Tiki Bar will host a
Juneteenth Celebration on June 17th, 6:00 p.m. — 8:30 p.m. at Crane’s Hotel, 82 Gleason St., Delray Beach. Poolside, music, hors d’oeuvres, 1 free drink. $25.00 donation benefits Spady Museum, which preserves African and African- American history in Palm Beach County. For more info, call 561-279-8883 or 561-278-1700.

Miami-Dade County

South Florida Chapter of Blacks in Government present Juneteenth Scholarship Banquet, June 18th, 6 p.m. — 11 p.m., Rusty Pelican, 3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, $35.00 per person, $60.00 couples. Donation benefits scholarships for Miami-Dade students. Juneteenth skit presented. For more info, call 305-746-1923 or 305-206-4363

Broward County

Old Dillard Museum and Greater Caribbean American Cultural Coalition presents Juneteenth Jazz Carnival, June 19th, 1 p.m. — 5 p.m., Old Dillard Museum, 1009 N.W. 4th St., Fort Lauderdale, Exhibition of Carnival costumes, Steel Pan Band, jazz concert, food and crafts. For more info, call 754-322-8828.