Special Feature

Celebrating Juneteenth
June 19, 2019
Special Feature
Celebrating Juneteenth
Author BYU Studies Staff

June 19 is the anniversary of Major General Granger’s 1865 announcement to the citizens of Galveston, Texas, that slavery was abolished. It’s also the anniversary of the end of slavery in the US territories (June 19, 1862), including Utah Territory. Here are two statements giving more history of these important events:

“The enslaved residents of Galveston, Texas, learned they were free on June 19, 1865. Every year afterward, they and their descendants celebrated the day and called it ‘Juneteenth.’ The celebration has now spread throughout much of the United States with commemorations of emancipation and the achievements and education of the formerly enslaved and their descendants. Curiously, Utah has its own ‘Juneteenth,’ since June 19, 1862, was the date Congress freed the slaves in the territories, including about thirty African American men, women, and children in Utah Territory…. There is no record that tells when any of them knew they were free.” —Amy Tanner Thiriot, on Facebook

“Today is Juneteenth, the commemoration of the abolition of slavery throughout the United States following the Civil War (June 19, 1865).

“The congressional Act in Relation to Service officially legalized slavery in Utah Territory on February 4, 1852. Congress later prohibited slavery in all U.S. territories on June 19, 1862. Susan Gray Reed Leggroan, who had been enslaved in Mississippi, migrated to Utah with her husband, Ned, in 1870. Together, they farmed in the communities of Butler and Mill Creek in the Salt Lake Valley, and eventually moved to southeast Idaho, homesteading and establishing a sheep ranch. ‘In each place in which they farmed and ranched Susan not only had to set up new households, but she also gave birth to children and cared for them under harsh frontier conditions. The Leggroan family was an important part of the black communities of Utah and Idaho and still is today.’”

“Credit to the public history project ‘Century of Black Mormons’ at The University of Utah that documents and recovers identities and voices of black Mormons during the religion’s first 100 years. J. Willard Marriott Library.” — Better Days 2020, on Facebook