We celebrate Juneteenth today– June 19th.
On June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, Union soldiers landed with the news that the war had ended and enslaved black people were now free.
This news came more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The Proclamation, which became official on January 1, 1863, had had little impact in Texas.
According to General Order Number 3, General Gordon Granger made the following announcement:
“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.”
Recently freed slaves were encouraged to stay with their slave owners so they could earn a living. Slaves who left were beaten, rounded up, and killed. Those who left were, effectively, now homeless. Slave owners were slow to give up what they considered their property.
On January 1, 1980, Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as an official state holiday. Only Oklahoma has since followed suit, and as of 2018, it is not recognized as a national holiday.
Today, Juneteenth is celebrated by more than 200 cities across the United States. Some cities sponsor week-long celebrations, while others choose to recognize the importance of the particular day.
For many, Juneteenth symbolizes what the fourth of July means to most Americans: freedom.
Happy Juneteenth! To learn more, visit: