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Juneteenth: The Growth of an African American Holiday (1865- )
An article by historian Quintard Taylor describing the origins and evolution of the Juneteenth holiday sine 1865. While some slaves were freed as early as 1861, in the first year of the Civil War, most were freed with the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 or the end of the Civil War in April 1865, However, it wasn't until June 19, 1865 that freedom officially arrived in Texas. Read the entire story, posted on BlackPast.org, an online reference center makes available a wealth of materials on African American history in one central location on the Internet.
The Birth of Juneteenth; Voices of the Enslaved
(Library of Congress - June 19, 2020)
Start of article:
On June 19, 1865, Logan Stroud, one of the largest slave-owners in east Texas, walked to the front porch of his plantation home, which he called Pleasant Retreat. More than 150 of his enslaved workers gathered around to listen.
He pulled out a dispatch from U.S. Maj. Gen Gorden Granger — General Order Number 3 — issued that very morning in Galveston from the Union Army’s Texas headquarters. The Confederacy had officially surrendered in April, but the last holdouts in Texas had fought on until they, too, were defeated. Now that the war was settled, President Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation would become the law of the land, even in the Lone Star State. (read the article)
Juneteenth: a Celebration of Resistance
(National Museum of African-American History and Culture)
From the page: "Juneteenth is a time to celebrate, gather as a family, reflect on the past and look to the future. The National Museum of African American History and Culture invites you to engage in your history and discover ways to celebrate this holiday."
Juneteenth, a combination of the words June and nineteenth, is a commemoration of the end of institutional slavery in the United States held in Galveston, Texas. The U.S. Civil War had ended a month prior but news traveled slowly to the outermost territories, and when word arrived on June 19, the newly freed slaves celebrated wildly. Since 1865 the date has been traditionally celebrated by African Americans as a day to spend with family, picnics, special sermons, parades, and storytelling, and over time the holiday has spread to most of the states of the United States. It is a legal holiday in some states and there is a movement to recognize the date as a federal holiday. Juneteenth as a celebration has moved in and out of favor over the years, with its approval shifting in response to changes in the level of civil rights activism and economic prosperity among African Americans. (from American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore)
Some quotes related to Juneteenth and what it represents:
"Every year we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations. That’s why we need this holiday."
– Al Edwards, Texas Democratic Representative
"Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation."
- Coretta Scott King, human rights activist and leader
"Now I’ve been free, I know what a dreadful condition slavery is. I have seen hundreds of escaped slaves, but I never saw one who was willing to go back and be a slave."
– Harriet Tubman, writer and civil rights activist
"If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned tho' we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader