What is Juneteenth?

 

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on June 19 for the past 150 years that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Many don't know what it is, or how it got its name. The name Juneteenth originated from what is known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, which is a combination of "June" and "nineteenth," in honor of the day that Granger announced the abolition of slavery in Texas.

Facts about black slaves prior to the Emancipation Proclamation

  • According to historian R. Halliburton Jr. In 1830 3,775 free black people owned 12,740 black slaves.

  • The census of 1830 lists 3,775 free Negroes who owned a total of 12,760 slaves.

  • The number of enslaved people held by Cherokees at around 600 at the start of the 19th century and around 1,500 at the time of westward removal in 1838-9. (Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws, she said, held about 3,500 slaves, across the three nations, as the 19th century began.) says Tiya Miles from the 19th century for Slate magazine in January 2016.

What we should know about Juneteenth

1.    Many slaves did not know they were free

January 1, 1863, The Emancipation Proclamation came into effect abolishing slavery. Texas would not accept this Proclamation and kept their slaves. Some slave owners hid the news from the slaves of their freedom. After the Emancipation Proclamation, it was not until Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived with 2000 troops traveling into Galveston, Texas, that many slaves learned of their freedom.

 

2.       The freedmen were advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages.

"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 personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere." —General Orders, w3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865.

 3.  General Gordon Granger and solider’s forced them to free their slaves

Untitled-1.jpg

On June 19, 1895, two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, General Gordon Granger along with Union Soldiers, entered Galveston, Texas and forced them to free their slaves. Lincoln's freeing of the slaves was only on paper, and the ongoing Civil War prevented freedom from becoming a reality as many plantation owners withheld the news.

4.      There were other options for an official holiday marking the end of slavery.

On September 22, which was the day in 1862 when Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation Order on January 31, the date the 13th Amendment passed Congress in 1865 and officially abolished the institution of slavery. However, it was Juneteenth that stuck.

5.       In 1979, Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth a holiday.  

6.       There is a flag that represents Juneteenth. 

In 1997, the founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (NJCF), Ben Haith, created the Juneteenth flag. Raising of the flag ceremonies take places throughout June in many cities.

7. Why there aren’t any official Juneteenth songs

As the celebrations grew, so did the adopting of so-called "Freedom Songs" or spirituals that connected to the civil rights movement. Standout songs like "Lift Every Voice And Sing," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and "This Little Light Of Mine" also figured prominently in Juneteenth gatherings over the decades.

8. Senator Obama campaigned to make Juneteenth Day a National Holiday. Even after two terms as President, it is still not a national holiday.

9. Trump and Juneteenth

"As a Nation, we vow never to forget the millions of African-Americans who suffered the evils of slavery," President Donald Trump said in a statement in 2018 attempting to recognize the holiday. "Together, we honor the unbreakable spirit and countless contributions of generations of African Americans to the story of American greatness. Today we recommit ourselves to defending the self-evident truth, boldly declared by our Founding Fathers, that all people are created equal." 

While Trump may be pretending to recognize the importance of upholding our constitutional rights, his administration continues to enforce his "zero-tolerance policy." He has separated nearly 2,000 migrant children from their detained parents and held them in "temporary shelters," which resemble prison camps.

10. States that recognize Juneteenth as a holiday

Forty-five states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or a special day of recognition or observance. Those states that recognize this day are North Dakota, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Montana, and Hawaii.

Work Cited

Chandler, D. L. “Little Known Black History Fact: Juneteenth.” Black America Web, 19 June 2015, blackamericaweb.com/2015/06/19/little-known-black-history-fact-juneteenth/.

“Juneteenth: Our Other Independence Day.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 15 June 2011, www.smithsonianmag.com/history/juneteenth-our-other-independence-day-16340952/.

“Juneteenth: Our Other Independence Day.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 15 June 2011, www.smithsonianmag.com/history/juneteenth-our-other-independence-day-16340952/.

Locker, Melissa, and Melissa Locker. “6 Things to Know about Juneteenth and Why It Matters More than Ever.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 18 June 2018, www.fastcompany.com/40586361/6-things-to-know-about-juneteenth-and-why-it-matters-more-than-ever.

Telusma, Blue. “Celebrating Juneteenth Is More Important Now than Ever in Trump's America.” TheGrio, TheGrio, 19 June 2018, thegrio.com/2018/06/19/juneteenth-trump-immigration/.