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Juneteenth

Galveston, Texas

Viele, Egbert L, and Charles Haskins. H. H. Lloyd & Co's. campaign military charts showing the principal strategic places of interest. New York H. H. Lloyd & Co, 1861. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,  www.loc.gov/item/99447061

What is Juneteenth?

Today in History - June 19 | Library of Congress (loc.gov)

Juneteenth

On June 17, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. signed into law the bill that established Juneteenth National Independence Day, June 19, as a legal public holiday. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the date Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and delivered General Order No. 3 announcing the end of legalized slavery in Texas. Historically, it has been a holiday celebrated by people of African descent in the United States, as well as people in Canada, Jamaica, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and other countries throughout the world. Juneteenth is also a “symbolic date” representing the African American struggle for freedom and equality, and a celebration of family and community.

Although two years and six months had passed since President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, many African Americans remained enslaved in Confederate states and also in the border slave states that remained loyal to the Union. The surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865 had not impacted Texas. Many plantation owners refused to acknowledge that the war was over and refused to “release” their enslaved workers from bondage. This practice continued even after the issuance of General Order No. 3.

General Order No. 3, delivered by Major General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865 stated:

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. . .

from the Library of Congress - Digital Collections - Today in History - June - 19 - "Juneteenth"

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"Juneteenth[encyclopedia article excerpt]

Morehouse, Maggi M. "Juneteenth." Oxford African American Studies Center. Oxford University Press. Date of access 5 Jun. 2022. A WashU WUSTL Key is required to access the full article.

"Juneteenth is a “black English” colloquialism that is a combination of two words—a contraction of the words “June” and “nineteenth,” and it signifies a festival of freedom—an annual celebration to remember the end of chattel slavery in America. It was on 19 June 1865, in Galveston, Texas, two months after the end of the Civil War, that the last slaves in America to be freed by advancing Union troops under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation were declared free by General Gordon Granger, commander of the occupying troops in Texas and Oklahoma. The liberated slaves responded to the announcement with joy and jubilation, which quickly turned into a spontaneous festival of freedom. In an interview made in the late 1930s as part of a Works Progress Administration oral history project, Slave Narratives (digitized by the Library of Congress), a former slave named Felix Haywood remembered those first days when the news of emancipation reached him in the summer of 1865 in San Antonio, Texas:

"Soldiers all of a sudden was everywhere—comin’ in bunches, crossin’ and walkin’ and ridin’. Everyone was a-singin’. We was all walkin’ on golden clouds. Hallelujah! “Union forever, / Hurrah, boys, hurrah! / Although I may be poor, / I'll never be a slave— / Shouting the battle cry of freedom.” Everybody went wild. We all felt like heroes, and nobody had made us that way but ourselves. We was free. Just like that, we was free."

The Felix Haywood full interview is available at: Federal Writers' Project: Slave Narrative Project, Vol. 16, Texas, Part 2, Easter-King. 1936. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mesn.162  (page 138)"

 

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"What is Juneteenth?" by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 

In this June 17, 2013, blog, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. ,editor-in-chief of The Root, writes about the origin of Juneteenth and why 42 states and the District of Columbia were celebrating the holiday in 2013.