Many of my family members still live in Texas, and it was maybe sometime in my adulthood that I first heard of Juneteenth!
I was really interested (beginning about 10 years ago) in learning about the Texas Reconstruction. They had troubles with acknowledging Black people as free men and women. There were many politicians coming up with ways to keep those who had been enslaved from receiving recognition or education or opportunities...known as Jim Crow laws.
There were also some other people who helped by donating land for schools, as well as land for communities to build on and farms that were available for "truck farming" - where usually the Black farmers would get a portion of the crop that they raised.
But the actual announcement that the Civil War was over was the cause for Juneteenth...not the actual Emancipation Proclamation as is being given out in publicity for the new national holiday.
The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Sep. 22, 1862, announced, “That on the 1st day of January. A.D. 1863, all person held as slaves within any state…in rebellion against the U.S. shall be then, thenceforward and forever free."
Lincoln freed the slaves on New Years Day of 1863. Of course the Confederate leadership didn't share that information with their slaves, or maybe even to the soldiers who were giving their lives for the cause of slavery. My Texas ancestors weren't at all happy with Lincoln becoming President...and I've got a copy of their hand written letters that said as much.
Lee surrendered his Confederate Army on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House. But there wasn't a way that all the various battlefields received that information right away. It wasn't until May 23 near Brownsville, TX that the last battle occurred...known as the Battle of Palmito Ranch. The news about the Appomattox surrender had finally arrived and many of the soldiers just went home by May 26 when Lt. Gen. E. Kirby Smith's Army of the Trans-Mississippi surrendered at Galveston TX.
"After the Civil War ended in April 1865 most slaves in Texas were still unaware of their freedom. This began to change when Union troops arrived in Galveston. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, (Union) commanding officer, District of Texas, from his headquarters in the Osterman building (Strand and 22nd St.), read ‘General Order No. 3’ on June 19, 1865. The order stated “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.” With this notice, reconstruction era Texas began."
In Texas, Juneteenth was celebrated as the Texas Black's first knowledge of Emancipation Day. Until that announcement, the slave owners probably were keeping it secret from the slaves.
It was first celebrated publicly, then more privately until the mid twentieth century. In 1979 June 19th became a Texas Sate Holiday.
This marker stands in Galveston TX to commemorate Gen. Granger's proclamation as quoted above. The marker was erected in 2014.
Incidentally, my great great great grandparents were Grangers from New England, I wonder if we were related to Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger.
Today's quote was the sign above in Galveston TX.