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Featured image: Celebrating Juneteenth poster by Everett Spruill. 20x 24 acrylic on gallery wrap canvas. Features freed African slaves in front of the capital building.
What is Juneteenth? Juneteenth is the most popular day of celebration of emancipation from slavery in the U.S. What is the history of the holiday? On June 19th 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger issued an order to Texas, notifying its people that all slaves were freed and “equal.” “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 that becomes employer and hired labor. The freedman 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.” — Generals Orders, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, June 19th, 1865 The order was issued a little late… The Emancipation Proclamation had been signed into law 900 days (nearly 2 1/2 years) earlier, on January 1 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation did not free all slaves. While it held symbolic significance, it only freed slaves from former Confederate states. Slaves in bordering states were not freed until the ratification of the 13th amendment on December 6, 1665 Why is Juneteenth recognized over other dates? The freed people of Texas made the holiday well known by celebrating this local anniversary annually with great fanfare. In addition to remembering their lost loved ones, people read the Emancipation Proclamation, shared food, and played games. Eventually Juneteenth celebrations spread throughout the country. The civil rights movement of the 1960s brought the holiday to the national spotlight. Martin Luther King, Jr and his supporters had planned The Poor People’s March on Washington for summer of 1968. After his assassination on April 4th of that year, the remaining organizers chose to cut the march short on June 19th. With pressure from it’s black citizens and their allies, Juneteenth became an officially recognized holiday in Texas in 1979. Today 47 states and Wasington, D.C have recognized the date as a state or ceremonial holiday. IT IS NOT RECOGNIZED AS A NATIONAL HOLIDAY. How to celebrate? Education someone else. Read books by black authors. Donate to a reputable local or national organization. Volunteer in your community. Celebrate with family. Protest injustice. #blacklivesmatter