The Juneteenth flag, created by Ben Haith in 1997. Haith is the founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation. (WTTW News)

After years of advocating and campaigning, Juneteenth is being recognized as a federal, state and local holiday for the first time this year. The day recognizes June 19, 1865, that's when the last enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were freed, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Cook County Juneteenth Planning Committee. (Credit: Norvell's Photography)

Juneteenth will be recognized as a federal, state and local holiday for the first time this year. The day recognizes the freeing of the last enslaved people in Texas, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865. 

Oak Woods Cemetery (WTTW News)

From the Civil War to the civil rights movement and everything in between, the lives of these prominent Black Chicagoans are educating others. We visit Oak Woods Cemetery for a lesson.

Selena Quinn, from left, LaVon Fisher-Wilson and Traci Coleman perform during a free outdoor event organized by The Broadway League as Juneteenth's celebrations take place at Times Square Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo / Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Parades, picnics and lessons in history were offered Saturday to commemorate Juneteenth in the U.S., a day that carried even more significance after Congress and President Joe Biden created a federal holiday to observe the end of slavery.

FILE - In this June 17, 2021, file photo, President Joe Biden hands a pen to Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., after signing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo / Evan Vucci, File)

Hundreds of top companies had already pledged last year to observe Juneteenth in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and the national reckoning on racism that followed.

FILE - In this June 19, 2020, file photo, demonstrators march through downtown Orlando, Fla., during a Juneteenth event.  (AP Photo / John Raoux, File)

This year alone, legislation to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday died in Florida and South Dakota and is stalled in Ohio, all states controlled by Republicans. But even in Maryland, where Democrats control the Legislature, a Juneteenth bill passed one chamber only to die in the other.

(Virtue Restaurant / Facebook photo)

As Juneteenth becomes a widely recognized holiday, the award-winning chef at Virtue restaurant talks about what the day means to him, and how he tries to honor it through his work.

"Demand Justice" sculpture in Grant Park. Artist Maxwell Emcays will talk about his inspiration and Juneteenth, June 19, 2021. (Courtesy of Chicago Park District)

Green spaces across the Chicago area will serve as the backdrop for a number of Juneteenth celebrations this weekend, from live music and dance to discussions about the new federal holiday.

President Joe Biden signs the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden signed a bill Thursday that was passed by Congress to set aside Juneteenth, or June 19th, as a federal holiday. Here’s a look at the holiday and its history.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs House Bill 3922 on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. The new law makes Juneteenth an official state holiday. (WTTW News via the Governor’s Office)

Plus: Our Spotlight Politics team on the new law, Springfield summer session and more

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the law Wednesday at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, where a rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by the country’s 16th president is currently on display.

A bronze sculpture by Eddie Dixon is one of five sculptures representing the story of Juneteeth at the George Washington Carver Museum in Austin, Texas. (Jennifer M. Rangubphai / Wikimedia Commons)

Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, is poised to become the first official “day of observance” in Chicago as part of the agreement that will approve a $12.8 billion spending plan for 2021.

People participate in Juneteenth celebration in Los Angeles. Friday, June 19, 2020. AP Photo / Jae C. Hong)

In addition to the traditional cookouts and readings of the Emancipation Proclamation — the Civil War-era order that declared all slaves free in Confederate territory — Americans were marching, holding sit-ins or car caravan protests. 

Reedy Chapel AME Church in Galveston, Texas.

When the Emancipation Proclamation was read in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, my great-great-great-great-grandparents were there.

In this June 6, 2020, file photo, demonstrators protest near the White House in Washington over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon, File)

Friday’s celebrations will be marked from coast to coast with marches and demonstrations of civil disobedience, along with expressions of Black joy in spite of an especially traumatic time for the nation. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot presides over a virtual Chicago City Council meeting on Wednesday, June 17, 2020.

The Chicago City Council on Wednesday recognized Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, but stopped short of making June 19 an official city holiday.

In this June 19, 2018, file photo, Zebiyan Fields, 11, at center, drums alongside more than 20 kids at the front of the Juneteenth parade in Flint, Michigan. (Jake May / The Flint Journal via AP, File)

 A holiday that is spreading across the U.S. and beyond, Juneteenth is considered the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Here’s a look at the holiday and its history.