Galveston Island is having our very own special holiday over the next week! It’s called Juneteenth. I had never heard of it untill I moved to Texas. It’s a big deal here and it has spread through the country and other parts of the world! This is the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth. We are set tp celebrate it here in a big way!
WHAT IS JUNETEENTH?
Juneteenth or June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last slaves in America were freed. Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation did not come until General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and issued General Order No. 3, on June 19, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
And why did he come to Galveston to issue the proclamation? Because in the mid 1800s, Galveston was the big city in the south. We were the one deep water port in the area. Pretty much everything that was shipped from this part of the U.S. went through Galveston. We were considered as important as Wall Street. We called the Ellis Island of the south. We were a major entry into the country.
WHY WERE SLAVES IN TEXAS THE LAST TO KNOW THAT THEY WERE FREE?
During the Civil War, Texas did not experience any significant invasion by Union forces. Although the Union army made several attempts to invade Texas, they were thwarted by Confederate troops. As a result, slavery in Texas continued to thrive. In fact, because slavery in Texas experienced such a minor interruption in its operation, many slave owners from other slave-holding states brought their slaves to Texas to wait out the war. News of the emancipation was suppressed due to the overwhelming influence of the slave owners.
When blacks in Texas heard the news, they alternately sang, danced and prayed. There was much rejoicing and jubilation that their life long prayers had finally been answered. Many of the slaves left their masters immediately upon being freed, in search of family members, economic opportunities or simply because they could. They left with nothing but the clothes on their backs and hope in their hearts. Oh, freedom!
For more of Juneteenth’s History, you can go here:
To see if there are Juneteenth events near you, check out here: