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Social & Policy Issues
Public's Understanding of Juneteenth Has Grown Since 2021
Social & Policy Issues

Public's Understanding of Juneteenth Has Grown Since 2021

Story Highlights

  • Six in 10 U.S. adults now know "a lot" or "some" about Juneteenth
  • Nearly half of adults say it should be a federal holiday
  • Most say Juneteenth should be included in history curriculums

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are more familiar with the Juneteenth holiday today than they were a year ago, when President Joe Biden signed a bill making it a federal holiday. About six in 10 U.S. adults say they know "a lot" (17%) or "some" (42%) about the Juneteenth holiday -- the combined 59% is up from just 37% in May 2021.


These findings are from a Gallup Center on Black Voices study conducted April 24-May 17 using the Gallup Panel, administered by web in English. An additional 29% of U.S. adults say they know "a little bit" about the holiday, and 11% say they know "nothing at all."

The Center first measured Americans' familiarity with Juneteenth in May 2021, about a month before both chambers of Congress passed legislation to make it a federally recognized holiday, which Biden then signed. Before the bill's passage, more than a quarter of Americans reported knowing nothing about the holiday, which was then celebrated in most but not all U.S. states.

Juneteenth -- also known as "Juneteenth Independence Day," "Freedom Day" or "Emancipation Day" -- occurs on June 19 and commemorates the date in 1865 when slaves in Texas were informed of their freedom after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender in the U.S. Civil War. That announcement came more than 2 1/2 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which, upon the Union's victory in the war, promised freedom to people held as slaves in the rebel states. The state of Texas became the first U.S. state to make Juneteenth a holiday in 1980, and before federal legislation was passed last year, 45 states and the District of Columbia had recognized the day in some way -- as a state holiday, a day of observance or a commemoration.

Nearly Half Now Say Juneteenth Should Be a U.S. Federal Holiday

Public support for and opposition to Juneteenth's status as a federal holiday have each increased over the past year as the public has become more familiar with it. The percentage who say Juneteenth should be a federal holiday has increased by a greater amount during that time (up 10 percentage points, to 45%) than the percentage who say it should not (rising five points, to 30%).


Among racial groups, Black adults (73%) are most in favor of Juneteenth being a federal holiday, while less than half of Hispanic adults (45%) and 38% of White adults agree.

Greater Support for Teaching Juneteenth in Public Schools

Americans now solidly support making Juneteenth a part of history curriculums in public schools (63%) -- up from 49% last year.

The increase in support for Juneteenth's inclusion in curriculums has been accompanied by a decrease in the percentage without an opinion, from 35% to 21%. Opposition to its inclusion (15%) remains similar to what the Center found in 2021.


Sixty percent each of White and Hispanic adults say Juneteenth should be part of history curriculums, while a much greater 86% agree among Black adults.

Bottom Line

As the nation prepares to celebrate the second Juneteenth federal holiday, more Americans have become familiar with its significance in U.S. and Black history. Greater familiarity has also come with greater support for its inclusion in the list of federal holidays -- as well as inclusion in U.S. history textbooks.

Juneteenth is still not greatly understood, if at all, by a sizable minority of the population, but given the relative newness of the holiday's federal status, this could change.

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