Juneteenth is a day of remembrance dedicated to the last enslaved Black Americans, who were freed in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

Celebrate Juneteenth with these local events, and more fun around Seattle

Here’s what to know about the holiday, which was federally recognized last year. And click this link to print out a Juneteenth flag of your own!

Official observance

On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act making Juneteenth a federal holiday. It was the first federal holiday to be added to the calendar since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

Although Texas recognized Juneteenth as a holiday in 1980, it has taken decades for other states to pass legislation acknowledging the significance of the day. Today, all states and the District of Columbia have laws recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday or day of observance. In some states, including Washington, Juneteenth is an official paid holiday for state employees.  

Who created the flag?

Boston community activist Ben Haith, founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation, created the Juneteenth flag in 1997 as a symbol to represent the holiday. 


Flag-raising events

The racial reckoning sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in 2020 increased awareness about the importance of Juneteenth. Flag-raising ceremonies at state capitol buildings and elsewhere have spread across the country to mark the holiday.

The flag’s symbolism

The flag includes several symbols, each with a unique meaning.

The star represents freedom for every Black American in every state. It also pays homage to the Lone Star of Texas, where the last enslaved people were freed.

The burst surrounding the star symbolizes a new beginning for all.

The arc represents a new horizon of opportunities for Black Americans.


Make your own Juneteenth flag

Download the sheet below (also at this link) to make your own Juneteenth miniflag. You will just need scissors, tape or glue and a pencil to be used as a handle.