In 1865, Union troops arrived in Texas to inform Black slaves they had been freed from bondage by federal order two years earlier, a historic moment now commemorated every June 19 with a new federal holiday called Juneteenth.
To mark this year’s celebration, Google dedicated a Doodle on Saturday — this year’s Juneteenth — to the anniversary of the day in 1865 when Union Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to read a federal order abolishing the institution of chattel slavery in the state.
Slavery was abolished in the Confederate states two years earlier when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “all persons held as slaves … shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” But Texas, a holdout state where enslavement continued, was geographically remote from Washington, DC, at a time when news traveled slowly.
While Lincoln’s order abolished slavery in Confederate states, it was still legal and practiced in the Union border states of Delaware and Kentucky until the 13th Amendment was ratified in December 1865.
The Juneteenth holiday is marked by celebrations and block parties around the country, and hundreds of companies have added Juneteenth to their calendars as holidays. This year’s celebration comes just days after President Juneteenth National Independence Day Act to law, the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day, added in 1983.the
The Google Doodle, created by Detroit-based guest artist Rachelle Baker, uses rich images of parades, music, food and community to illustrate Black joy and artistic contributions through the ages.
The Doodle’s images are framed by decorative ironwork like that found in Southern architecture, paying homage to Black artistic contributions often forged by slaves.
Google is also celebrating Juneteenth with a handful of new features across its platforms.
- On Friday, Google launched a new Google Arts & Culture exhibit to share the history of the holiday and portraits of newly free men and women.
- Google Assistant is joining in with new responses to help people learn more about Black historical figures and moments by saying, “Hey Google, what happened today in Black history?” Google worked with civil rights activist, author and lecturer Carl Mack on the project to raise awareness of many important cultural events and leaders.
- Google Maps created a list of historical landmarks and local Black-owned businesses in New Orleans. April Hamm, a New Orleans-based Local Guide, educator and musician, curated the list by visiting historic places around the city — such as Congo Square and the Free People of Color Museum — and adding information about them to the map, making history more accessible.
- Google Play has launched a special campaign featuring apps created by Black developers and an interview with Julio Rivera, the founder of Liberate, a meditation app designed to support the Black community.