Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Celebrating Juneteenth

Photo courtesy Johntex via Wikimedia Commons
What began in Texas in the 1800’s as a celebration commemorating the abolition of slavery has since become a state holiday or state holiday observance in 40 other states as well - including Washington.
Juneteenth – which is a combination of “June” and “nineteenth” -  marks the day in 1865 when Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of the civil war and the emancipation of slaves living in that state.  This was already two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official.  Apparently, the states in the Confederacy were doing a little foot-dragging when it came to following through with Lincoln’s executive order.  So Major General Gordon Granger, along with a couple of thousand federal troops, came to Texas to declare the institution of slavery officially dead.  Jubilant celebrations immediately followed.
In Texas, Juneteenth has been an official state holiday for over a century.  Here in Washington, a bill passed in 2007 recognizes June 19 as a day of remembrance in our state.  On this day, we honor the African American experience in our country, recognizing the evils of slavery and celebrating freedom as a human right for everyone.

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.