It took two years from Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation for word of freedom to reach slaves in Galveston,Texas.
They were the final group to be declared free on June 19th, 1865.
Today, 41 states have made the celebration an official holiday.
"It is not just for African Americans, but it's for all Americans just to celebrate that," said Harrisonburg and Rockingham County NAACP President Esther Nizer.
"We still have a long way to go. It's important that we recognize that date just as we we recognized other independence days."
Bridgewater Councilman Rosco Burgess says June-teenth and the NAACP have reminded him about another struggle African American's endured; the debate over civil rights.
"We're not second class people," he said. "We're just as good as anybody else. And that's true. Since the NAACP has taken over, it's been a bit different. We're not where we'd like to be but we know we're sure better off than we used to be."
He believes the generational change happening now will start to make things even better for African Americans.
"We got more younger people coming up now that don't care what color your skin is. And I think when that happens, and they keep coming up, that things are going to start to level out. And you can see the difference now."
Despite that, Burgess feels June-teenth is being forgotten.
"We got some people that say, oh, I'm well off now. I got cars. I got this, ok so I don't really need NAACP, I'm not going to Juneteenth and I don't need it."
He worries this may be problematic for the future.
"If you don't keep up what you process and trying to do, it goes back to what it was."
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