"Juneteenth is a day of reflection, a day of renewal, a pride-filled day. It is a moment in time taken to appreciate the African American experience. It is inclusive of all races, ethnicities and nationalities as nothing is more comforting than the hand of a friend."
Juneteenth originated as a celebration of the ending of slavery in Texas. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and 1,800 troops of the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that the Civil War had ended and all slaves were free. Even though President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect on January 1, 1863, freeing all slaves in those states in rebellion against the United States, for various reasons the decree had not yet taken effect in Texas.
The proclamation issued by General Granger - General Orders, Number3 - announced:
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 ...
That evening, thousands of people in Galveston celebrated their freedom with dancing, singing, and feasting. In the years that followed, other southern cities also began to organized Juneteenth festivities. It was not until January 1, 1980, however, that Juneteenth was designated an official state holiday in Texas. Through the efforts of African American state legislator Al Edwards, Juneteenth became the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition.
Today, Juneteenth is celebrated not only in Texas, but in cities throughout the United States. Typical Juneteenth activities include picnics, parades, barbecues, ball games, and family reunions. It is also a time for people to recount the events of the past. Today Juneteenth has taken on a more national perspective, celebrating African American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures.
"Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man, this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal."
- Abraham Lincoln, (July 10, 1858)