The holiday marks the historical date that news of the Confederate surrender of the Civil War reached the last enslaved black people right here in Texas. June 19th, 1865 nearly three months after the end of the Civil War, news of the Confederate surrender finally reach Galveston, TX.
Juneteenth, first celebrated as a Texas holiday, is set to become a Federal Holiday. It was actually first celebrated one year after news reached Galveston to commemorate the day. Black men, women, and children in Galveston, TX became the first to celebrate Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, Liberation Day and Jubilee Day in its early years.
The history of Juneteenth.
Maj. General Gordon Granger is credited with issuing the announcement that read:
“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.”
The Emancipation proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, while the Civil War was still going on. The Proclamation read was meant to change the legal status under federal law of more than 3.5 million enslaved African Americans in the southern Confederate states from enslaved to free. As soon as a slave escaped the control of the Confederate government, either by running away across Union lines or through the advance of federal troops, the person was permanently free.
The Emancipation Proclamation read:
“That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”
January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law. April, 9 1865 General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate troops to the Union’s Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.
Fast-forward 156 years later amid Americas ongoing reckoning with racial justice, and inequality that has spurred a new era of political “wokeness” that is embedding it’s way slowly but surely as a culture shift within our nation.
Is all of this too little too late?
The Twitterverse is on literal fire right now as folks voice their opinions. Need proof? Take a look at this Twitter thread from @thejournalista, which started with her tweet stating:
"Imagine making Juneteenth a federal holiday when laws are being enacted all over the country that will prevent people from being taught why it's a holiday."
You're welcome for that one!
Political proponents of recognizing June, 19th as a Federal Holiday are highlighting "good intentions" stating:
“A national holiday commemorating the biggest stain on our history is necessary, overdue, & only a first step in recognizing the lasting effects of slavery.”
The Unites States Senate unanimously voted to approve a bill that will make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The House is expected to vote on the measure Today.
Juneteenth in Texas and across much of the country is celebrated through picnics, concerts, church services, marches, art exhibits, and much more. How will you be celebrating Juneteenth? Will you be celebrating at all?
It's time for a NewsBreak sound-off in the comments section!
What do you think about Juneteenth becoming a Federal Holiday?
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