June 19, 1865, marks the day Texas freed enslaved people for good, one of the last states in the U.S. to actually do so. The Juneteenth holiday celebrates this historic occasion that ended more than 350 years of state-sanctioned slavery in the country.
The Texas proclamation actually happened two and a half years after Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln and two months after the end of the Civil War, showing the difficulties for Black Americans to start their lives new after slavery officially ended. Open hostility and violence towards African-Americans continued through the Jim Crow era and into present-day America.
It is estimated that more 20 million people were forced to leave Africa enslaved – almost 11 million of those in the trans-Atlantic slave trade -, which amounted to a death sentence for many. Slavery also changed the social fabric of the African continent by cutting in half the population it would have had in 1800 had slavery not occurred. According to database project SlaveVoyages.com, this was especially true for parts of West and Southwest Africa, where millions of Africans were enslaved. 300,000 of them disembarked in the U.S. but more arrived via the inter-American slave trade. 4.5 million enslaved Africans disembarked in the Caribbean and 3.2 million in present-day Brazil.