This week celebrates June 19, also known as Juneteenth, Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, representing true freedom for Black Americans across the nation.
Juneteenth is considered the most prominent Emancipation Day in the United States. It commemorates the day that Union soldiers liberated slaves in Galveston, Texas, putting an official end to slavery.
On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston and issued 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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.
The Proclamation referred to the Emancipation Proclamation that U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signed almost two and a half years earlier. Until Juneteenth, the Proclamation had very little impact on Texans since there were very few Union soldiers present at the time to enforce it.
The reaction to the General Order was both shock and jubilation. Many former slaves immediately left plantations, possibly to travel north or to find family members that had been sent to other areas. Some stayed behind to learn more of the hired laborer option. Whatever their choice, it was now theirs to make as free men and women of the nation.
Today, Juneteenth symbolizes freedom to Black Americans and serves as a reminder of the triumph over the inhumanity of slavery. It is recognized by 47 of 50 states, including Texas, as an official holiday and it is celebrated with parades, performances, barbecues and more.
To learn more about the history and importance of Juneteenth, you can visit Juneteenth.com or connect with the Southlake Library for titles such as Juneteenth Texas: Essays in African American Folklore or Let’s Celebrate Emancipation Day & Juneteenth.
One of the greatest things freedom gives us is a voice. We celebrate the voice of Black authors and the contribution they have made to literary freedom. To discover many of our favorites, explore these reading lists: Kid Reads, Teen Faves, Adult Fiction, Nonfiction & Biography.
Sources: Juneteenth.com https://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm
Juneteenth Cometh LARK, DENVER REGINE. “Juneteenth Cometh.” New York Amsterdam News, vol. 109, no. 24, 14 June 2018, p. 11. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=130331015&site=ehost-live