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Juneteenth Commemoration

group of men at Juneteenth celebration 1900
Juneteenth commemoration in 1900

New York designated Juneteenth as an official state holiday for the first time on June 19, 2021. Juneteenth (short for June 19th) commemorates African American freedom in our country. Its history goes back to June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that declared all enslaved people in Texas were free. While President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation a full two and a half years before the end of the war, it wasn't until the war's end that enslaved people in Texas knew they were free.

DEC recognizes the continued struggle and delayed liberation some communities face as they search for environmental freedoms and equality. We support the spirit of Juneteenth by:

  • Ensuring all New Yorkers and visitors have the freedom to access, enjoy and feel welcome on state lands;
  • Providing Community Impact Grants, competitive grants that empower communities to develop and implement solutions to environmental justice issues;
  • Co-chairing the Climate Action Council (DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos), tasked with preparing a plan to achieve the State's bold clean energy and climate agenda - liberating New York, including its most vulnerable populations, from the effects of greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Leading a Climate Justice Working Group - comprised of representatives from environmental justice communities statewide - tasked with incorporating the needs of disadvantaged communities in the State's energy and climate agenda.
Community air screening by DEC staff with residents from Albany South end neighborhood
DEC conducting air monitoring in Albany South End
neighborhood, an environmental justice community

This Juneteenth, we continue to strive for environmental and climate justice. The freedom to enjoy a clean and safe environment is the right of every New Yorker, and we will continue to work to bring equity and justice to historically overburdened communities.

Check out these Juneteenth events around the state, and let's celebrate independence and liberty with our fellow New Yorkers! (links leave DEC website)

Juneteenth NY Festival

Second Annual JuneTEENth Freedom Day Celebration and Open House! - Underground Railroad Education Center (

Binghamton Juneteenth celebration 2022 | Assata Shakur Park, Binghamton, NY | June 18, 2022 (

Juneteenth 2022 (

African American Heritage | Buffalo Juneteenth | Buffalo

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