What’s up with Juneteenth?
A lot of people make fun of Juneteenth. If you had been a black living in Texas in 1865 you would have a different point of view. Although Lincoln officially freed all slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation effective January of 1863, it didn’t carry any weight in Texas. So from the period from 1863 through 1865 slaves stayed slaves in most parts of Texas. June 19th, 1865 changed all that…at least officially.
On June 19th 1865, General Gordon Granger took 2000 troops to Galveston Texas where he read General Order 3 that announced slavery ceased to exist, but that all former slaves were to continue to work for their former masters with the difference that they would now receive wages for their efforts. It should also be noted that the General also announced the former slaves weren’t welcome at army installation, nor were they “going to be supported in idleness.” In other words they were free – but on their own.
The date of June 19th was celebrated by African-Americans the following year in Texas, in much the same manner as traditional 4th of July celebrations. People gathered to listen to the stories of former slaves, pray, dance, and enjoy homemade foods. As you can imagine, the whites of the time were not happy, and relegated these celebrations to the outskirts of town and generally tried to repress the celebrations. Over the next few years the celebration spread out from Texas to neighboring states of Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Eventually, as more people learned of the celebration, it became relatively popular across the nation.
Today the Juneteenth holiday is celebrated officially in one form or another by 36 states. Some of the costumes and outspoken personalities may cause some to think the holiday is silly. In reality it is no sillier to celebrate Juneteenth than it is to celebrate the 4th of July. One of these holidays earned a nation freedom from taxes and British law. The other freed people from being treated as property to be bought and sold in Texas.
Which one do you think is sillier?