SILVER SPRING, MD — As efforts to make Juneteenth a national holiday continue, people in Silver Spring are having celebrations of their own. Juneteenth, held annually on June 19, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States and the date many enslaved people in Texas finally found out they were free.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, according to Juneteenth.com. It is “a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings.” In recent years, Juneteenth “commemorates African-American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement.”

In Silver Spring, find a musical celebration and a Black business expo, or attend the county’s celebration in Germantown.

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  • Saturday Social – The Juneteenth Musical Special Edition
    • DMV artists will perform at The Fire Station 1 Restaurant & Bar in Silver Spring from 10 p.m. on June 19 to 2 a.m. on June 20. Tickets are on sale now, and early arrival was suggested.
  • Juneteenth Black Business Expo
    • More than 20 Black-owned businesses will be at the The People’s Community Baptist Church from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 19. There will be raffles, education, music and food.
  • “Freedom at the Rock”
    • Montgomery County is hosting an event in Germantown with live music, food, art, films and awards. The family friendly event will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The event is being held by Montgomery County at the BlackRock Center for the Arts.

Juneteenth is held on June 19 because that was the date in 1865 when Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved people were free. Many of the enslaved people in Texas had not known of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had actually given them freedom more than two years earlier.

Granger read “General Order No. 3,” which stated, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves,” according to the city of Galveston, which has an historical marker for its connection to the holiday.

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Henry Louis Gates Jr., a Harvard University professor and African American historian, wrote in The Root magazine that Juneteenth is “an occasion for gathering lost family members, measuring progress against freedom and inculcating rising generations with the values of self-importance and racial uplift.”

Most states have Juneteenth listed as an official holiday, although it is not a national holiday. In 1980, Texas became the first state to designate Juneteenth as a holiday. In the time since, 45 other states have decided to officially recognize the day, according to The New York Times.

Juneteenth celebrations have occurred in most states, according to Juneteenth.com. A number of cities and towns held events and parades for the 150th anniversary in 2015.

Also On Patch: What Is Juneteenth? 5 Things To Know About The Holiday That Marks The End Of Slavery

More and more places, such as Anne Arundel County, Maryland, are recognizing Juneteenth as an official holiday. County offices will be closed on Friday, June 18, in observance of the Saturday holiday this year, and Annapolis will host Maryland’s first Juneteenth festival with a parade through the state capital.

“Celebrating Juneteenth as an official county holiday demonstrates our county’s true commitment to freedom and equality — for all,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said in a statement. “The growing national push for observance of Juneteenth is an important step as we move forward toward justice for this community, in light of centuries of racism, discrimination, and inequity.”

Some major American brands — Twitter, Nike and the National Football League, included — have made Juneteenth a paid company holiday.

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