Growing up in Texas, we have always celebrated Juneteenth. Now, I am glad the country has finally caught up.
If you don’t know about the date and its significance, please see the fabulous poem from my fabulous Spelman sistah, Lynae Vanee, and read more information below. ~ V
“Today” A Juneteenth Poem by Lynae Vanee
Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed.
The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. On June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox Court House two months earlier in Virginia, but slavery had remained relatively unaffected in Texas—until U.S. General Gordon Granger stood on Texas soil and read General Orders No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
The Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, had established that all enslaved people in Confederate states in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
But in reality, the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t instantly free any enslaved people. The proclamation only applied to places under Confederate control and not to slave-holding border states or rebel areas already under Union control. However, as Northern troops advanced into the Confederate South, many enslaved people fled behind Union lines.
Juneteenth and Slavery in Texas
In Texas, slavery had continued as the state experienced no large-scale fighting or significant presence of Union troops. Many enslavers from outside the Lone Star State had moved there, as they viewed it as a safe haven for slavery.
After the war came to a close in the spring of 1865, General Granger’s arrival in Galveston that June signaled freedom for Texas’s 250,000 enslaved people.
Although emancipation didn’t happen overnight for everyone—in some cases, enslavers withheld the information until after harvest season—celebrations broke out among newly freed Black people, and Juneteenth was born. That December, slavery in America was formally abolished with the adoption of the 13th Amendment.
Juneteenth Virtual Programs
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Juneteenth is a time to gather as a family, reflect on the past and look to the future. Discover ways to celebrate this African American cultural tradition of music, food and freedom.
Juneteenth Director’s Welcome ~ Video via NMAAHC
Juneteenth (a blending of the words June and nineteenth) is the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.
It is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Cel-Liberation Day.
It commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and told slaves of their emancipation from slavery. Texas was the last state in rebellion, following the end of the Civil War, to allow enslavement.
Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation was not announced in the last state practicing enslavement until General Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas and issued General Order #3, on the “19th of June”, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth is a holiday in 46 states across the nation. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture says that the holiday marks our country’s second independence day. It has long been celebrated among the African American community. (Sources: NJOF and NMAAHC)
Photo: Juneteenth day celebration in Texas. 1900.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
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