Friday, June 17, 2016

Juneteenth: The Day of True Freedom

“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, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865

Juneteenth Celebration in Austin, Texas on June 19th, 1900

Ashton Villa: Major General Gordon Granger gave General Order Number 3 from the balcony of this home on June 19th, 1985

Artist rendition of a Union soldier delivering the good news to the enslaved Africans in Texas

This Sunday, June 19th, will mark the 150th Anniversary of the "actual" eradication of slavery in the United States of America. On June 19th, 1865 Major General Gordon Granger marched his Union soldiers into Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and the slaves were now free. History states that the slaves of America were freed on January 1st, 1863 through President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, but there were not enough Union troops with strongholds on Confederate territory to enforce the order. Another issue that caused the two year delay was the lack of ability to quickly communicate over long distances. It is often said among celebrators that "the messenger" sent to deliver the message of freedom to the slaves was murdered en route in order to prolong slavery.

Today, many Americans of all races and creeds celebrate Juneteenth as a major victory for humanity in America. To celebrate communities all over the United States have barbeques, parades, music festivals with spoken word, and many other events to remember this holiday recognized by almost every state in America. If not for the efforts of those soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice, many of the liberties African Americans enjoy would not have been possible. Also, many other liberties that exist today would not have had the chance to flourish and exist if a stand against social injustice had never been taken.

How will you celebrate Juneteenth this year? Part of the beauty of being an American citizen is that we are all able to learn and remember our history and appreciating how the voices of a few have radically impacted the lives of multiple millions. Here at the Schwob Memorial Library on Main Campus we have a large collection of resources all pertaining to the Civil War and slavery in America. Come ask us about different databases and texts that we can guide you to for more information on the history of Juneteenth and the Emancipation Proclamation. Also catch a music festival or poetry reading to celebrate as well!

With Hope,
Branden Printup

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