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Juneteenth celebrations: California observes belated Emancipation Day with other states

People attend Juneteenth, Black Independence Day celebrations at Nichol Park on June 19, 2004 in Richmond, California. The holiday is celebrated in June because slaves in Texas and several other states did not learn of their freedom until June of 1865.
People attend Juneteenth, Black Independence Day celebrations at Nichol Park on June 19, 2004 in Richmond, California. The holiday is celebrated in June because slaves in Texas and several other states did not learn of their freedom until June of 1865.
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California joins other states Sunday in recognizing Juneteeth.The observance, also known as Emancipation Day, is this country's oldest commemoration of the end of slavery.

Through his Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in January of 1863. But slaves in Texas didn't get the word they were free until two years later — on June 19 in 1865 — when a Union general arrived in Galveston with an order that slavery was over.

Across the nation, planners have organized family gatherings, picnics and other events to mark that historic event.

In the Southland, Leimert Park Village hosts the 2nd Annual Heritage Festival with a focus on digital education.

At the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, famed opera singer Denyce Graves performs in a Juneteenth Worldwide Concert event. The program also recognizes the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. And people are invited to enjoy live entertainment, food and free health and dental screenings during a Juneteenth celebration in Moreno Valley.

About three dozen states around the country, including California, officially observe Juneteenth.