June 19, 1865: Over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, Texas are finally informed of their freedom.
HAPPY JUNETEENTH!! ✊✊✊✊
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in 1865. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and 19th and is recognized as a state holiday or special day observance in the United States.
In addition to recognizing Juneteenth, the Ohio General Assembly passed a bill in 2006 setting aside September 22 as Emancipation Day in Ohio because on September 22, 1863, the African American community in Gallipolis, Ohio, began what has become the longest, continuous celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation on the first anniversary of Lincoln’s preliminary proclamation.
8 U.S. states have not recognized Juneteenth through state legislative resolution or bill: Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah.
Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863, it had a minimal immediate effect on most slaves’ day-to-day lives, particularly in the Confederate States of America. Texas, as a part of the Confederacy, was resistant to the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth commemorates June 18 and 19, 1865.
June 18 is the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. On June 19, 1865, while standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of
“General Order 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. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
That day has since become known as Juneteenth, a name coming from a portmanteau of the word June and the suffix,”teenth”, as in “Nineteenth”, coined by 1903. Former slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets with jubilant celebrations. Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year.
Across many parts of Texas, freed people pooled their funds to purchase land specifically for their communities and increasingly large Juneteenth gatherings — including Houston’s Emancipation Park, Mexia’s Booker T. Washington Park, and Emancipation Park in Austin.
In Arkansas, the small town of Wilmar has consistently observed “June Dinner” from almost the time of the Emancipation, well over one hundred years (except for one year during the Great Depression).
Traditions include an enunciated public reading of the Emancipation Proclamation as a reminder that the slaves have been proclaimed free. The events are celebratory and festive. Many African-American families use this opportunity to retrace their ancestry to the ancestors who were held in bondage for centuries, exchange artifacts, debunk family myths, and stress responsibility and striving to be the best you can be.
Celebrants often sing traditional songs as well such as Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; Lift Every Voice and Sing; and poetry from black authors like Maya Angelou.
Juneteenth celebrations also include a wide range of festivities to celebrate African- American heritage, such as parades, rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, or park parties that include such things as African-American music and dancing or contests of physical strength and intellect. Some of the events may include black cowboys, historical reenactments, or Miss Juneteenth contests.
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