A Celebration of Freedom
As we celebrate Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, it is fitting that we pause to recognize the origin of this important part of our African American heritage. June 19th marks the day in 1865 when word reached blacks in Texas that slavery in the United States had been abolished.
More than two years earlier, on January 1, 1863, Republican President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Delivered during the American Civil War, this proclamation ordered the freeing of all slaves in states that were rebelling against Union forces.The proclamation had little effect in Texas, where there were few Union troops to enforce the order. News of the proclamation officially reached Texas on June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger, backed by nearly 2,000 troops, arrived in the city of Galveston and publicly announced that slavery in the United States had ended.
Republicans had passed the Thirteenth Amendment on January 31,1865 that was ratified on December 6, 1865 to abolish slavery in the United States. Reactions among newly freed slaves ranged from shock and disbelief to jubilant celebration. That day has been known ever since as Juneteenth, a name probably derived from the slang combination of the words June and nineteenth.
Juneteenth commemorations began in Texas in 1866. Within a few years they had spread to other states and became an annual tradition, celebrating freedom for blacks in addition to many other themes, including education, self-improvement, African American accomplishments throughout history, and tolerance and respect for all cultures.
This history of Juneteenth was distributed by the chairman of the Harris Co Republican Party.