Last weekend, Juneteenth celebrations happened across the Bay Area in San Francisco, Oakland, Vallejo, San Jose, Richmond, and Berkeley, and today is the actual holiday, June 19, commemorating a day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and told some 250,000 slaves that they were free.
After over a century of unofficial celebrations, Juneteenth would later become a state holiday in Texas in 1980 — it's currently one of four optional holidays that state employees can choose to take off — and it began being celebrated in Northern California cities starting with Berkeley in 1986. It's now officially recognized as a ceremonial holiday in 46 states, and in 2018, Apple added it to its calendars, so you may have seen it there and wondered what it was.
It's become a weekend, community-based festival that often falls before the actual holiday, as it did this year. One of the biggest Juneteenth celebrations in the country happens in Houston's Emancipation Park, but the black communities of San Francisco and Oakland continue to keep their annual street parties lively.
Below, a quick primer video from The Daily Beast about Juneteenth — starting with a clip from Black-ish — and some images from Juneteenth 2018 in Berkeley. And ABC 7 has a preview of a documentary called Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom, by a Texas filmmaker.