On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers reach Texas and share the news of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. This becomes known as Juneteenth with annual celebrations initially just in Texas but now in many other cities and states across the United States. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the US dating back to 1865.
By choosing to celebrate the last place in the South that freedom touched — reflecting the mystical glow of history and lore, memory and myth, as Ralph Ellison evoked in his posthumous novel, Juneteenth — we remember the shining promise of emancipation, along with the bloody path America took by delaying it and deferring fulfillment of those simple, unanticipated words in Gen. Granger’s original order No. 3: that “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”
- Barr, Alwyn. 1996. Black Texans: A History of African Americans in Texas, 1528–1995. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0806128788.
- Guzzio, C. Tracie. 1999. “Juneteenth.” In Samuels, Wilford D. (ed.). Encyclopedia of African American Literature. Facts on File.
- Fonrouge, Gabrielle. 2020. “What is Juneteenth and who has made it an official holiday?” New York Post.
- An early celebration of Emancipation Day (Juneteenth) in 1900. Mrs. Charles Stephenson (Grace Murray) – The Portal to Texas History Austin History Center, Austin Public Library. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.