The Emancipation Proclamation. We all learned about it in school. January 1, 1863. The day President Abraham Lincoln declared that “all persons held as slaves” in confederate states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” The end of slavery in America, right? Wrong.
Turns out, that message didn’t reach everyone in America and wouldn’t for a couple more years.
Maybe the message just didn’t make its way to Texas or maybe it was due to the lack of Union troops in the state to enforce the executive order but Texans would still own slaves until June of 1865 (two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed).
After the Civil War was over, Union Major General Gordon Granger was given command of the Department of Texas.
He landed in Galveston, TX on June 19, 1865 and officially declared that the enslaved were now free.
This was one of his first official orders in Texas, General Order Number 3. It said:
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection therefore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
“The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation,” according to Juneteenth.com.
Eventually the celebration of June 19th came to be known as Juneteenth.
“The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members,” Juneteenth.com says.
According to History.com, for decades to come, Juneteenth commemorations were full of music, barbecues, rodeos, fishing, prayer services and other activities.
“As Black people migrated from Texas to other parts of the country the Juneteenth tradition spread,” History.com says.
Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday in 1979.
“Juneteenth today, celebrates African-American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures,” Juneteenth.com says. “As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.”
On Wednesday, June 16, the House passed legislation that would establish June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, making it a US federal holiday. The bill passed the House 415-14 after the Senate unanimously passed the legislation Tuesday, according to CNN.
The bill will now go to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
More Americans should know about Juneteenth.
Posted by ATTN: Video on Monday, June 19, 2017
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