Tuesday, June 19, 2007


This is not a religious holiday, but it was on my calendar and I had never heard of it so I decided to look it up.

Today is “Juneteenth”, also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, which commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. It is an annual holiday in 14 states and originated in Galveston, TX.

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863. Few slaves were actually freed at that time. In Texas, the Confederacy was in control of most of the state. News of the war's end did not reach Texas until well after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox in April 1865. Many speculate the news was deliberately withheld so that slave owners could bring in one last crop; others believe it was delayed because the messenger traveled by mule or the original messenger was murdered en route.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived on Galveston Island to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its 250,000 slaves. That day has since become known as Juneteenth, a name derived from a portmanteau of the words June and nineteenth.

Former slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets with jubilant celebrations. Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year. Large gatherings are held at various locations, with music, dancing, contests and games.

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