What is Juneteenth?

What is Juneteenth?
  In short after the Emancipation Proclamation  (September 22, 1862) was signed by President Abraham Lincoln declaring all African Slaves to be freed (sic) as of January 1, 1863, the state of Texas believed themselves to be unaffected by the declaration.  As a former member of the Confederacy the state was slow to accept defeat.  Since at that time there was no internet, television, or radio the status quo continued long after the ending of military hostilities.  It wasn’t until Juneteenth 1865 some two years later that the Union General Gordon Granger and 2000 federal troops arrived in Galveston Texas to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of ALL slaves.   On June 19, 1865, General Granger stood upon the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa and read General Order No. 3, “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.”

Afterwards, former slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets giving birth to Juneteenth.  Officially Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year and slowly spread across many parts of Texas and other states.  Most people of color think of this day as just another day to party having no real understanding of its significance.  The Golden State of California, a few states to the west, is far removed from the State of Texas and 1865 yet it would seem that no matter what the words on that document might mean, some people will always be enslaved through ignorance as they continue working in somebody else’s field; waiting on a hand out,  laying claim to a geographical area they have no financial interest in while at the moments notice are willing to shed blood; in the name of that area needing to be protected.   So if you live in Chicago, California, Saint Louis, or Texas…take time to understand the significance of this date and celebrate it as a day of without blood shed while we remember the long journey from past to the present.  Tell us what you are doing to celebrate Juneteenth.

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