149 years ago today, the abolition of slavery was announced in Texas. We have affectionately labeled this special day Freedom Day, Emancipation Day or Junteenth–the combination of June and 19th. Even though former president Abraham Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, it didn’t go into effect until 1863 and many slaves in the Confederate States saw no change in their daily lives.
But on June 18, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Texas with federal troops in tow to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. The very next day, June 19th, Granger read 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.”
I think that’s cause for a celebration and while many of us are aware of the important date, we don’t always celebrate it. Here’s a few ways that we could:
1. In The Office:
Discuss company diversity initiatives and ensure employees that race and gender will never be barriers to their progress within the company. Also challenge co-workers to present African American facts, debunk myths and stereotypes. This should open up an interesting and enlightening conversation.
2. Around Your Neighborhood:
Organize a block party that will educate your neighbors on the importance of Juneteenth. Encourage your neighborhood to decorate and display Juneteenth yard signs and banners. Feel free to hit up local post offices, libraries, city hall, etc. and ask them to put up posters or pass out fliers explaining Juneteenth’s significance.
3. In Your Home:
Organize a special dinner party or get-together, where you and your friends speak candidly about our history and the effects that it has on us today.
Visit Juneteenth.com to look up local celebrations in your town. How will you celebrate?
Check Out This Gallery Of Black Women In History You Should Know: