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Juneteenth: Emancipation Day

Juneteenth: Emancipation Day

Author Maha Safwan by

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Juneteenth: Emancipation Day Juneteenth is known as the celebration day of the emancipation of slavery. The name of the holiday “Juneteenth” comes from the day that Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and enforced the executive order that called for the emancipation of slavery on June 19th, 1865:

“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, No. 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, Texas, June 19, 1865.

Despite the fact that this executive order was sent out 2 ½ years prior when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the enslaved people in Texas still had not been freed. Due to the lack of Union troops in Texas, the enslaved people in Texas were robbed of their freedom for another 2 ½ years. Even after General Granger issued the executive order that freed all the enslaved people in Texas, many slave owners retained said information to prevent the enslaved people from being free. Finally, in December of 1865, the 13th Amendment was ratified and slavery was abolished.

Juneteenth was celebrated annually by including different activities such as having guest speakers come and talk and conducting prayer services. Because these celebrations were often met with resistance by preventing the use of public property, they were mostly held in rural areas near rivers and creeks. However, in 1872, the Emancipation Park was created when a group of Black ministers and businessmen bought 10 acres of land in Houston, Texas and in 1898, the Booker T. Washington Park was bought by a Juneteenth organization, allowing the park to become a place where the celebration could be held. Today, big cities have several events including festivals, barbecues, parades, and more. Although Juneteenth has not been recognized as a national holiday yet, 48 states recognize it as a state holiday. Here is a petition you can sign to have Juneteenth be recognized as a national holiday.

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