As the nation suffers from the police brutality, the COVID-19 outbreak, and political injustice, we must remember today is Juneteenth (The word is a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth”) which commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas and the nation’s ”second” Independence Day. This day now more widely represents the emancipation of enslaved African Americans across the US following the civil-war and its violent aftermath.
On 19 June 1865, roughly 2,000 Union Army soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that enslaved people were now free. In his order, Union Army Major General Gordon Granger announced that “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,” he continued.
But the announcement arrived more than two years following then-president, Abraham Lincoln ‘s Emancipation Proclamation, which signaled the end of slavery in the United States but did not end the enslavement of all people in the nation at the time, contrary to its legacy and evocative language.
For African Americans communities in America, justice has often been delayed. Whether it’s waiting almost 90 years for the promise of the Fourth of July to be fulfilled, or a year and a half for the Emancipation Proclamation to have the force of law. It’s this very history that makes it so important to celebrate Juneteenth. Slavery was an abomination and it took a war to end it, but it did end. Jim Crow enshrined racism and prejudice in our laws, but the Civil Rights movement put an end to Jim Crow. Today, Black and Brown people still experience racism every day at every level of American life and face violence at the hands of the police.
My Brothers, I ask you remember the past to understand our FUTURE!