MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Friday is Juneteenth, the annual celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

It’s a day with enormous meaning for racial equality, this year more than ever. Some call it America’s other Independence Day.

READ MORE: USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul Arrives In Duluth Ahead Of Commissioning

The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation is asking U.S. Congress to recognize the date as a holiday equal to the 4th of July. A petition has gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures.

Juneteenth dates back to June 19, 1865. A union general announced from his balcony in Galveston, Texas, that enslaved African-Americans were free. Slaves in Texas were the last to learn of their liberation, two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

As protests against systemic racism have swept across the nation this year, a number of prominent businesses, including the NFL, Twitter, and Nike have designated Juneteenth a company holiday. Most states, including Minnesota and Wisconsin, recognize Juneteenth as a holiday.

RELATED: Target Announces Juneteenth Will Be An Annual Company Holiday

Around the metro on Friday, there are a number of events, including:

READ MORE: Video: What Dr. Scott Jensen’s GOP Endorsement Means For Campaign Ahead

— a day of service in north Minneapolis,

— an afternoon rally for reparations outside the Capitol,

— a community celebration near 19th & Nicollet in south Minneapolis,

— a “Rebuild and Unite Minneapolis” event along Lake Street,

— and a commemoration at the George Floyd memorial at 38th and Chicago.

Juneteenth activists say for all Americans serious about correcting the nation’s social injustice, recognizing this holiday is a step in the right direction.

MORE NEWS: Take Part In 'Shark Tank'-Like Competition Amid 3M Open

According to the Congressional Research Service, the only states that do not observe the holiday are Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota.