On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, first learned they were freed when Union Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order Number 3. This was two-and-a-half years after then-President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, and about two months after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. Since this time there have been special events to commemorate the day, sometimes called Emancipation Day, and in 1980 Texas became to first state to designate it as a holiday. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in October 2020 signed into law legislation passed by the General Assembly declaring it an official state holiday, as well.