|Juneteenth Emancipation Day Celebration, June 19, 1900, Texas (Public Domain photo)|
By Vernon Lee
Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and independence. It is the oldest celebration that serves as a memorial that slavery has ended. United States History records that on June 19th 1865, the Union Army under the leadership of Major General Gordon Granger docked at Galveston, Texas. Mr Gordon carried great news. First, the war was over and second that all slaves have been emancipated.
This proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1st, 1863, during the American Civil War. There was some resistance to this proclamation until General Grangers regiments were forceful enough to influence and overcome the resistance. There are many stories that are spread about the two and a half year delayed message of emancipation. Some say that the original messenger was murdered on his way to Texas with this good news. Other historical account stated that the work force would diminish the labor on plantations. So the message was deliberately withheld. Lastly the news was withheld because cotton plantation owners wanted to reap the benefit of one last harvest.
General Grangers first action was to read General order number three. “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 heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”
This message made General Granger the “Shock Jock” of his day. He came across as Howard Stern or more strongly Don Imus. His words caught peoples attention and profoundly shocked others as slaves responded with immediate jubilation. Many slaves traveled to the north as a symbol of true freedom. Whiles others traveled to different states reuniting with relatives and long lost friends.
The resurgence of the Junteenth celebrations were sparked by the Civil rights Movement.
Al Edwards an African American state of Texas Legislator was instrumental in the passage of Juneteenth becoming an official Texas Holiday. On January 1, 1980.
There are a lot of people that have moved to Texas and have no idea of what Juneteenth was all about. Others embrace this state holiday and celebrate in their own special ways. Through out the Texas community and the world Juneteenth has enjoyed a growing popularity. Major institutions and museums have Juneteenth sponsored activities. Organizations have been formed to ensure and promote cultural knowledge of Juneteenth an African American History.
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