On June 19th, 1865, in Galveston, Texas Union Major General Gordon Granger read General Order Number Three to an assembled group of people stating that all slaves were free. This was the news that resulted from Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation from Jan. 1, 1863 as it finally reached all states, and Texas became the very last state to hear of the news. Within the black community, this announcement sparked an immediate celebration, and was again celebrated the following year. Years later at Booker T. Washington Park in Limestone, Texas the celebrations drew thousands of people in commemoration of this freedom. Black families gathered together that day to commemorate their final notification that slavery had officially ended.
As a result the date of June 19th was known as the blended word, Juneteenth, and celebrations spread throughout Texas and neighboring states. In the 19th century, festivities included the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, slave stories, prayer, speeches, rodeos, dances, games and lots of food. As populations spread from the southern United States to more urban areas the celebrations continued. In the 1970’s the popularity of Juneteenth was resurfacing in Texas, and in 1980 it became a state holiday. Celebrations now include many festivities in many states as a celebration of freedom from slavery.
“Juneteenth.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, Feb. 2020, p. 1. EBSCOhost, ezjsrcc.vccs.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=134522961&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
Prather, Patricia Smith. “Juneteenth.” Cobblestone, vol. 18, no. 3, Mar. 1997, p. 17. EBSCOhost, ezjsrcc.vccs.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=9704025456&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
Wynn, Linda T. “Juneteenth.” Freedom Facts & Firsts: 400 Years of the African American Civil Rights Experience, Jan. 2009, p. 26. EBSCOhost, ezjsrcc.vccs.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=40073964&site=ehost-live&scope=site.