“No one is free when others are oppressed.”
WHAT IS JUNETEENTH?
Juneteenth or June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last slaves in America were freed. Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation did not come until General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and issued General Order No. 3, on June 19, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
BUT DIDN’T THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION FREE THE ENSLAVED?
President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, notifying the states in rebellion against the Union that if they did not cease their rebellion and return to the Union by January 1, 1863, he would declare their slaves forever “free.” Needless to say, the proclamation was ignored by those states that seceded from the Union. As a result about 8000,000 slaves were unaffected by the provisions of the proclamation. It would take a civil war to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to formally outlaw slavery in the United States.
WHY IS JUNETEENTH CELEBRATED?
It symbolizes the end of slavery. Juneteenth has come to symbolize for many African-Americans what the fourth of July symbolizes for white Americans — freedom. It honors those African-Americans ancestors who survived the inhumane institution of bondage.Blacks do celebrate the 4th of July in honor of American Independence Day, but history reminds us that blacks were still enslaved when the United States obtained its independence.
WHY WERE SLAVES IN TEXAS THE LAST TO KNOW THAT THEY WERE FREE?
During the Civil War, Texas did not experience any significant invasion by Union forces. Although the Union army made several attempts to invade Texas, they were defeated by Confederate troops. As a result, slavery in Texas continued to thrive. In fact, slavery in Texas continued to thrive and many slave owners from other slave-holding states brought their slaves to Texas to wait out the war. News of the emancipation was suppressed due to the overwhelming influence of the slave owners and the importance of cotton cultivation. The cotton-plantation system, concentrated in south central Texas on the lower Colorado, Brazos, and Trinity rivers, generated much of the state’s agricultural production before the Civil War. Cotton production rose massively from 58,000 bales in 1850 to over 431,000 bales in 1860. Numbers of slaves grew from 58,161 to 182,566 in the same period, while the total population approximately tripled, from 212,592 to 604,215. The primary export was cotton; cattle were second. Cotton, planted on 60 percent of the state’s cultivated acreage, outdistanced all other commodities as a cash crop.
When looking at the history of the United States and examining the question “when were black people finally freed from slavery?” Most people will say that black people were free when Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation, this assumption is very incorrect for a number of reasons but lets look at what the duties of an American citizen are:
- Support and defend the Constitution.
- Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
- Participate in the democratic process.
- Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
- Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
- Participate in your local community.
- Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
- Serve on a jury when called upon.
- Defend the country if the need should arise.
The people held as slaves were not able to do most of these duties by law. These laws served to keep blacks in a position that was not much better than slavery. For example black people could not serve on juries thus it was almost impossible for black people to get justice in American courts. Blacks couldn’t participate in the democratic process because they couldn’t vote until the The 15th Amendment to the Constitution granted African American MEN (what about the females?) However it was not ratified until February 3, 1870. Even with the 15th amendment the Voting Rights Act, had to be signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on August 6, 1965 to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that were denied African Americans.
Did General Order No. 3 actually free the people held as slaves in Texas?
GENERAL ORDER, No. 3. reads
“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.”
By command of Maj.-Gen. GRANGER.
F.W. EMERY, Major, and A.A.G.
By some of the language in the order how could you possibly think that they were freeing the slaves “The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages.” Okay so the slaves were slaves on June 18th then all of a sudden on June 19th they are free but they are to stay on the same plantation and all of a sudden get paid (menial wages of course) to do the same work?
J — Juneteenth represents the joy of freedom–the chance for a new beginning.
U — Unless we expose the truth about the African-American slave experience, Americans wont truly be free.
N — Never must we forget our ancestors’ endurance of one of the worst slave experiences in human history.
E — Every American has benefited from the wealth blacks created through over 200 years of free labor and Juneteenth allows those guilty to acknowledge that debt.
T — To encourage every former slave-holding state to follow Texas’ (and Oklahoma’s) example and make Juneteenth a state holiday.
E — Every day in America, blacks are reminded of the legacy of slavery. Juneteenth counters that by reminding us of the promise of deliverance.
E — Even on the journey to discover who we are, Juneteenth allows us to reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re at and where we’re going as a people.
N — Never give up hope is the legacy our enslaved ancestors left. It was this legacy that produced black heroism in the Civil War and helped launch the modern civil rights era.
T — To proclaim for all the world to hear, that human rights must never again become subservient to property rights.
H — History books have only told a small part of the story; Juneteenth gives us a chance to set the record straight.
Not raining on your Junteenth parade, Im just making some points.