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Juneteenth, short for “June Nineteenth,” celebrates the effective end of chattel slavery in the United States when, on this date in 1865 and two and a half years after President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, nearly 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure the freeing of all people still enslaved there. Celebrations erupted across the state as word spread, and the holiday has traditionally been commemorated with joyous family gatherings, prayer services, music and barbecues.

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