Among one of the darkest periods of U.S. history lies the dawn of a new morning. A dawn that the National Museum of African American History & Culture considers as “our country’s second Independence Day.” Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) was initially organized in 1866 by freedmen. It was initially known as “Jubilee Day”. This monumental event has long been a celebration in the African-American community for over 150 years and is considered one of the longest African American celebrations in U.S. History.
The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in 1863. However, it did not free all of those who were enslaved. Contrary to what many of us have been taught, the proclamation only applied to states that were under Confederate control, not slave-holding border states or rebel areas controlled by the Union. Thus states such as Texas, the westernmost Confederate state, continued enslavement for nearly 2 and 1/2 years beyond the initial emancipation. According to History News (i.e. History Channel), enslavers outside of the Lone Star state moved to Texas, viewing it as a “safe haven” for slavery. In some cases, enslavers withheld the information until after harvest season.
Although Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered two months prior, It wasn’t until over 2000 union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas where General Granger read General Orders No. 3, which stated: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” Despite the fact that freedom didn’t happen overnight for everyone, celebrations broke out among those were newly freed. Subsequently, slavery was formally abolished by the 13th Amendment in December of 1865. In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official state holiday. As of June 17th, 2021, Juneteenth became a national holiday.
Regardless of Corporate America’s misrepresentations of Juneteenth, this generational celebration is testament to Black Americans’ survival against systemic degradation. A testament to our continued perseverance in a country built on Indigenous land by the bone and blood of Black people and an ode to Pan-African liberation. The social structure that supported the historical atrocities in the development of this nation are the blueprint that continue to inform systems of oppression today. This is why we created Inclusive Guide. We believe that with critical analysis of our past, together we can set clear intention for a better future. Free of systemic oppression and rooted in equity for all of us.
The historical legacy of Juneteenth. National Museum of African American History and Culture. (2022, June 7). Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/historical-legacy-juneteenth#:~:text=Freedom%20finally%20came%20on%20June,newly%20freed%20people%20in%20Texas
Nix, E. (2015, June 19). What is Juneteenth? History.com. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://www.history.com/news/what-is-juneteenth