Juneteenth – The day Slaves learned they were free

juneteenth

19th of June is known as Juneteenth, an African-American holiday begun at the end of slavery days. Its origins are Texan, not Louisianan, but Juneteenth has long had strong roots in the South and has since spread all over the country as a time for African-Americans to commemorate their freedom and accomplishments.

Emancipation_Proclamation_large

President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, which granted freedom to slaves in Confederate states, on New Year’s Day in 1863. Word didn’t reach the African-American slaves of Galveston, Texas, until June 19, 1865, when a force of two-thousand Union soldiers arrived and informed them of their freedom. Although news indeed did travel slowly in those days, two and a half years is a long time; historians suspect Texas slaveholders knew of the proclamation and chose not to free their slaves until they were forced to.

The African-Americans of Galveston began an annual observance of Juneteenth which over the years spread to other areas and grew in popularity. Early Juneteenth celebrations were picnics at churches and in rural areas with barbecues, horseback riding, fishing, and more. The early 20th century saw a weakening of the holiday’s observance due to African-American migration to urban centers, the national celebration of Independence Day just a few weeks later, and the preference of white historians to emphasize the Emancipation Proclamation over Juneteenth as a date to mark the end of slavery. Although some activists objected that holiday’s associations with slavery were too backward-looking, Juneteenth’s visibility rose again during the Civil Rights Era of the 1950s and 60s, and its resurgence continues all over the country

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Hodgepodge 4 the Soul™
    Jun 19, 2015 @ 14:33:24

    I had no idea that such a holiday existed. Thank you for posting this.

    Reply

  2. any1mark66
    Jun 19, 2015 @ 14:46:16

    You sense of history is awesome. Crazy part of this.. the slave states in the union (Missouri, Maryland, Kentucky and Delaware) still maintained slavery until thirteenth amendment was past in December 1865.

    Reply

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