History of Juneteenth
The history of Juneteenth can be traced all the way back to June 19th of 1865. This is when the Union Army, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that all former slaves were now free. Although President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, slavery hadn’t ended in Texas because there weren’t enough Union soldiers in the state to enforce the new order. However, the sound defeat of General Lee in April of that year and the arrival of the Union soldiers under Granger strengthened the forces sufficiently enough to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.
On June 19th, 1865, Major General Granger read General Order Number 3 to the people of Texas. This order stated: “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.” Reaction to this order by the former slaves was as varied as you could imagine. Some of the slaves stayed on under their former masters in a working capacity, while others left immediately after the order was read. Some of the headed North and others head to other parts of the South looking for family members they may have been separated. As more and more families united, they remembered fondly the day they acquired their freedom and began to celebrate it as Juneteenth. The day gained further prominence during the Civil Rights Movement.
Learn more of the history by viewing this video.
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