Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. It’s sad that this news came two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.
Just as current, all kinds of “Bubble Gum” was made up to explain this two and a half year delay.
1. A messenger was on his way to Texas with the news of freedom, but he was murdered….OK….now this sounds like “Strawberry Bubble Gum!”
2. The news was deliberately withheld by slave masters. No “Bubble Gum” here!
3. The federal troops actually waited for the slave masters to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the
Emancipation Proclamation. No “Bubble Gum” here either!
Well, the information of freedom eventually came and was read by General Granger. This is the beginning of Order Number 3:
“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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”
Slaves reacted with many emotions after hearing this. Some of them stayed to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, (House Nigga) and other slaves threw up their two fingers and told their former owners; DUECES! These slaves walked away from their plantation life with their freedom and nothing else.
Some of these newly freed Men and Women headed North to the place that represented true freedom, and others went to find family members in neighboring states; such as, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. This is a great example of the Pleasant family surname. Some of our family is up North and some are in Louisiana.
Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants.
Ginger’s Thoughts – We are the descendants of some strong spirited individuals, and it is time for us to start acting like it! Check out the links below, because their is so much more information pertaining to this important day in Black History.