An article detailing the origins of Juneteenth
Start writing a post
Politics

Everyone Should Celebrate Juneteenth

Y'know, this holiday doesn't get the recognition it deserves. Are you aware of its origins and how it became widespread?

148
Everyone Should Celebrate Juneteenth

Let's rewind the clock back to the mid 1860s. The American Civil War is going on and several citizens in the South flee west, toward Texas, in order to escape the fighting. They take their entire families with them, along with their "property". The population of Texas boomed, to say the least. Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation came into effect on January 1st 1863, but it had little effect on Texas or the rest of the Southern states (as you may recall from history class). Texas was relatively far from the fighting and there were a lack of Union troops to enforce the new executive order. Plus, smart-phones and the Internet weren't a thing, so news tended to travel slowly.

Union troops finally arrived at Galveston Island, Texas on June 18, 1865. The next day General Gordon Granger stood on the balcony of Galveston's Ashton Villa and read aloud the contents of "General Order No .3", which 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, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly 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."

The newly freedmen rejoiced and celebrated in the streets! They organized the first annual Juneteenth celebration the following year. Black people across Texas pooled their funds together and purchased their own land, holding their Juneteenth celebrations there. They barbecued, ate a ton of food, and wore fancy clothing. Unfortunately, their fun didn't last. In the decades leading into the 20th century, Juneteenth celebrations declined due to Jim Crow laws and increasingly oppressive state constitutions. As the Industrial Era began, many black people moved from their rural environment into the city in order to find work. Many couldn't take the day off to celebrate. Between 1940 and 1970, 5 million black people left Texas and migrated to different areas of the United States, bringing their customs with them!

Juneteenth celebrations saw a resurgence in the 1960's, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. This trend continued into the '80s and '90s, becoming even more widespread! In 1994, The Juneteenth Committee met at Christian Unity Baptist Church in New Orleans to work toward greater national celebration of the holiday. Chairman Paul Herring stated that ,"It's a time to reflect and rejoice, because we are the children of those who chose to survive." As of today, Juneteenth is celebrated nationwide and is gaining more recognition. Some US military bases abroad hold celebrations and Apple added Juneteenth to its calendar this year!

Paul Herring's statement is the essence of Juneteenth; it's a day of reflection, self-improvement, and celebration for African-Americans. As a man of color living in the southern United States, I always think about my place in today's society as well as my family history. I can do things today that my great-grandfather simply couldn't do in his time. Things as simple as jogging without the fear of being lynched, or sitting at the front of the college shuttle bus without being harassed, or marrying a white woman if I wanted to, or getting fast-food from the front counter (or drive-thru) rather than from the back door, just to name a few. I'm thankful for what my predecessors had to endure in order for me to have the opportunities I have today. Because of it's significance, I hope future Juneteenth celebrations will be celebrated more openly, akin to other national holidays!

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

74836
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

136973
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments