Juneteenth

Freedom A Failed Promise

A Typical Negro, by McPherson and Oliver
I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was two things I had a right to, liberty or death;
If I could not have one, I would have the other."

– Harriet Tubman
”Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
– Frederick Douglas

History of Juneteenth

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day [1] , Jubilee Day, Cel-Liberation Day, is an American holiday that commemorates June 19, 1865. On this day, after almost two and half years since the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved African Americans were informed of their liberation from the slavery present in the former Confederate States of America.Texas was the most remote of the slave states, and the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, was not enforced there until after the Civil War had ended.The name of the observance is a portmanteau of "June" and "nineteenth", the date of its celebration.

At first celebration involved church-centered community gatherings in Texas. It spread across the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s. Often the centerpiece was a food festival. A third stage was reached in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, when the focus became the story of struggle for postwar civil rights. The 1970s saw a fourth stage, which returned the focus to African American freedom and arts. By the 21st century Juneteenth was celebrated in most major cities across the United States. Activists are pushing Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday. Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 46 of the 50 states.

Observance is primarily in local celebrations. Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing", and reading of works by notedAfrican-American writers such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou. Celebrations include rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, or Miss Juneteenth contests. The Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles, of Coahuila, Mexico also celebrate Juneteenth.

Emacipation Day Celebration

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863. It declared that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were to be freed. This excluded the five states known later as border states, which were the four "slave states" not in rebellion – Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and Missouri – and those counties of Virginia soon to form the state of West Virginia, and also the three zones under Union occupation: the state of Tennessee, lower Louisiana, and Southeast Virginia.

More isolated geographically, Texas was not a battleground, and thus the people held there as slaves were not affected by the Emancipation Proclamation unless they escaped. Planters and other slaveholders had migrated into Texas from eastern states to escape the fighting, and many brought enslaved people with them, increasing by the thousands the enslaved population in the state at the end of the Civil War. Although most enslaved people lived in rural areas, more than 1,000 resided in both Galveston and Houston by 1860, with several hundred in other large towns.By 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas.

The news of General Robert E. Lee's surrender on April 9 reached Texas later in the month.The Army of the Trans-Mississippi
did not surrender until June 2.On June 18, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2,000 federal troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the federal government. The following day, standing on the balcony of Galveston's Ashton Villa, Granger read aloud the contents of "General Order No. 3", announcing the total emancipation of those held as slaves:

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.[17]
America has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.” - Dr. Martin Luther King
A Man was Lynched Yesterday, 1936
Duluth Lynching Postcard
Ida B. Wells, Journalist, Activist, one of the founders of the NAACP
Emmett Till, Lynched in Mississippi on August 28th, 1955 at age 14 after being accused of flirting with a white woman.
Ida B. Wells, Anti-Lynching Crusader - from Biography.com
Billie Holiday sings Strange Fruit, 1959 (written by Abel Meeropol)
”The basic tenet of black consciousness is that the black man must reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic humanity.”
-Steven Biko
"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."

– James Baldwin
Go BackPress Here to Continue