Tuesday, June 19, 2007

JUNETEENTH

This is not the Post I intended to write concerning Emancipation...but its a start!

In 1984, in the mid part of the month of June, the XMrsBulletholes and I were on our way to Toledo Bend Lake for a camping trip. We kept passing groups of Black folks on the side of the road. Their mood seemed quite festive and it was like a 100 mile long picnic on the side of the road.
She asked me :
'What are all these black folks doing all up and down this road? Is it some kind of party?"
I looked over to her and grinned and said
"I guess they are just being Black!"
It was about then that I realized that it was "Juneteenth"...the 19th of June and a holiday in Texas for many years. I believe it is now observed in 14 States as well.

After the battle of Antietam in September of 1862, Lincoln announced his Emancipation Proclamation which was to free the Slaves. It took effect on January 1st of 1863. Lee surrendered at Appomattox in April of 1865.

On June 19, 1865, the Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, to announce to the inhabitants of the Civil Wars end two months earlier, and the Emancipation Proclamation from 2 and a half years earlier. It was news to the slaves in Galveston and throughout the State.

"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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

"...Employer and free laborer." For a people that have been enslaved for 400 years, could there be any words more powerful than this?

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

8 comments:

Old Lady said...

Funny, every June 19th I wake up and say, "It's Juneteenth." Good day to commemerate the end of a bad thing.

Barbara said...

I never heard of this. I suppose if you had been enslaved for 400 years, 2-1/2 years wouldn't make a whole lot of difference. I'm glad they finally found out.

Akelamalu said...

I'd never heard of Juneteenth until today - thanks for the info. :)

steve said...

Old lady- Ever since that day on the way to the lake, I always begin to take note of what is coming up around the 16th. it is an important date for the country. January 1st is too busy being New years Day to ever be Emancipation Day. And we should have an Emancipation Day, No?

Barb & Malu- Ya'll have made my Day! A successful post!

GrizzBabe said...

I'm with you on the Emancipation Day. I should be emancipated from work on that day! :)

Forgive me for being ignorant of Civil War history, but was the failure to announce the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston due to an oversight or were there people who knew but purposely witheld the information?

Mother of Invention said...

Never heard of it either, but then I'm kinda north of where all that happened!
I have the same question as Grizz.

Akelamalu said...

It certainly was a successful post!

GEWELS said...

Never heard of it either. HAH! and I married a HISTORY teacher.