Today is the day that I will celebrate my independence day. In fact, I won’t be alone either. All across this country, there will be barbeques, parties, and maybe even a parade or two. Those not celebrating today because it’s Friday will likely do so tomorrow if they haven’t celebrated already.
Why celebrate independence today and not on the Fourth of July? It’s because today is Juneteenth. If you don’t know about Juneteenth, here’s a quick rundown.
“Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.”–Courtesy of Juneteenth.com
On June 19, 1865, General Granger read aloud his General Order #3 to the people of Galveston, Texas that read as follows:
“The people 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, become that between employer and hired labor. The freed are advised to remain 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.”
With all the sadness in the news lately, I’d rather focus on something a bit happier. I just returned from a great vacation with the family that I may post about later on. We celebrated then as we will celebrate today. Our celebration will include prayers for those in Charleston, South Carolina and everywhere else who are mourning the loss of loved ones.
Richmond, VA Juneteenth celebration from 1905, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
So, to all those who are descendants of slaves no matter how far back or what race, Happy Independence Day!!!