Lest we forget….
“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.” -General Order Number 3
It’s Juneteenth, the day that commemorates June 19, 1865, when word reached Texas of the abolition of slavery in the Lone Star State as well as the emancipation of African-Americans throughout the Confederacy.
It is also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day. Its name is a mash-up of “June” and “nineteenth,” the date of its celebration.
In 2021 it became a federal holiday, as noted in this USA Today opinion piece.
Today, Juneteenth is enjoying a phenomenal growth rate within communities and organizations throughout the country. Institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum and others have begun sponsoring Juneteenth-centered activities. In recent years, a number of local and national Juneteenth organizations have arisen to take their place along side older organizations – all with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.
Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.
The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states creating Juneteenth committees continues to increase. Respect and appreciation for all of our differences grow out of exposure and working together. Getting involved and supporting Juneteenth celebrations creates new bonds of friendship and understanding among us. This indeed brightens our future – and that is the Spirit of Juneteenth.
Juneteenth was a state holiday or special day of observance in forty-five states before becoming a federal holiday after President Joe Biden signed the 2021 bill that was passed by Congress. Happy Juneteenth!
Originally published June 19, 2021