“What is Juneteenth? June 10th? Am I saying it right? Is it a made up word?,” My mom and I looked around in confusion because we had never heard of this word before. See, I’m not originally from Texas, and in school, I had always been taught that slavery had ended in 1865. It wasn’t until I moved to the “Great State of Texas”, that I learned this wasn’t the case for all of the enslaved Africans.
It was then explained to my mom and me, that Juneteenth was a day to celebrate the official ending of slavery in the state of Texas. With eyes wide open and mouths gaping, it was a surprise to learn that not all slaves in the United States were given freedom at the same time. These people found out two years later, that they no longer had to endure slavery and that they should have already been free. The slave master’s knew about it, but wanted to continue slavery for the monetary gains their crops would pull in. How horrible, but incredibly American. We love that mighty dolla!
I was in the 7th grade at this time and looking back, I still never learned anything about Juneteenth in school, and I was living in Texas at this time. This information seemed to be left out of the history books. If it was in the books, it must have been in the back of the book. You know in the part that’s usually skipped because its near the end of the school year. I’m a history teacher now, and yep…still not there.
So again, what is Juneteenth? Today, June 19, 2020, marks the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth. This day has come to be called Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Cel-Liberation Day. On this day in 1865, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to free the enslaved people of the states in “rebellion” by President Abraham Lincoln, Federal troops arrived in Galveston, TX. They were there to gain control of the state and to ensure that all enslaved peoples were given freedom.
I’m sure this was a bittersweet day. Finally, 250,000 slaves, over some time, would no longer have to answer to the hardships of a master and would be free. This was a generational prayer answered for freedom from oppression. Only thing now is continued survival in the midst of having nothing. Now, what would they be able to do being black in America?
Facts from History.com
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