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Juneteenth National Holiday

Historical perspective is not as linear as most would like, but it puts understanding in the hands of the reader. Trust your mind to truth.

Juneteenth. What?

Juneteenth is the celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation signed into law on January 1, 1863, and enforced on June 19, 1865, first in Galveston, Texas, by federal troops with the good news to slaves made free men and women by the executive decree! The name comes into play by combining June and 19 together to form the word Juneteenth.

The Emancipation Proclamation was the first step in the freedom of all slaves in the United States because only those slaves in the Confederate territories were initially freed. That one act set in motion for the entire nation to enjoy legal freedom from the oppressive hand of slave ownership and slavery. 1865 was a great year for African Americans, whose God-given freedoms were finally recognized by the government. "That December, slavery in America was formally abolished with the adoption of the 13th Amendment." [1]

These changes came slowly as the initial goal of President Lincoln was to keep the Union together. Civil War brought with it changes that evolved into the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the Human Rights Movements that include gender and sexual persuasion equality under federal and state laws.

Recognizing the changes that took place in the United States and celebrating the milestones of those changes are important cultural threads in uniting the citizens

Juneteenth National Independence Day

June 19, 1865, or Juneteenth as the newly free Americans and their descendants call it today is official! "The Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday," [2] the House voted and passed on Wednesday, and President Biden signed on Thursday into law June, 17,2021 "establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US holiday." [2]

This is a time of great celebration as the nation of their captivity now officially celebrates the acknowledgment of their freedom and equality under the law. Recognizing the changes that took place in the United States and celebrating the milestones of those changes are important cultural threads in uniting the citizens in a shared heritage of freedom-seeking and freedom-loving.

President Biden Signing Juneteenth into Law

juneteenth-national-holiday

Freedom from slavery did not mean freedom from responsibility...

General Order No. 3

Texas is the genesis of this holiday. In 1979, Texas made Juneteenth a state holiday. Jubilee that started in Texas following General Gordon Granger reading, after the end of the Civil war ended, to his new district (Texas district) of command the following words in Galveston:

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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection therefore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer... [4]

This landmark action called General Order No. 3 inspired the spontaneous celebration of June 19, 1865, and the Jubilee that evolved into the modern Juneteenth celebration throughout the country by the descendants of those who migrated from Texas to other parts of the United States--keeping that tradition alive.

Another important part of that general order is the equalizing factor it took into consideration for the former slaves turned wage earners. Freedom from slavery did not mean freedom from responsibility or a need to care for one's self and family. The general order continued,

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... [4]

New freedoms came with new, and some old, responsibilities. The former slaves still worked where they previously slaved on plantations if they could not leave, which was many. An estimated 250,000 freed people, African Americans lived in Texas at that time. Their status change did not promise immediate new conditions, but laboring with the understanding they were no longer bound legally to a master changed their outlook on what life could become!

General Orders, No. 3. U.S. House, 54th Congress, 1st Session (H. Doc. 369, Part 2). “General Order Number 3,” 1896. U.S. Documents Collection. Y 1.1/2: SERIAL 3437

General Orders, No. 3. U.S. House, 54th Congress, 1st Session (H. Doc. 369, Part 2). “General Order Number 3,” 1896. U.S. Documents Collection. Y 1.1/2: SERIAL 3437

Our federal holidays are purposely few in number and recognize the most important milestones. I cannot think of a more important milestone to commemorate than the end of slavery in the United States. [3]

— Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY

Forever Liberty America

Hope came to a new segment of America on June 19, 1865. That hope began the raising of America to a greater version of itself. After over a century of legal battles to realize the modern bastion of freedom and equality it is today, Juneteenth is a celebration of America's promise of liberty to all!

In that spirit of freedom, the United States of America continues to uphold its birth, its documental Declaration of Independence from the British Empire:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness... [4]

All people created equal and endowed by God with rights, unimpeachable rights, as stated to the King and Parliament of Britain, Life, have the right to live, to exist; Liberty to govern and represent; and Happiness, pursuing it and offering it!

Most important are the rights not listed in the foundational documents that have and will come to discovery as the United States lives on as a bastion of human liberty. In a diverse nation that began with the desires of Puritans wanting the freedom to worship in peace stands a great chorus and cacophony of voices asserting agency to act in a vehicle of freedom.

Freedom

It may not sound pretty all the time.

It may look ugly some of the time.

Because it is free, ALL of the time,

Let liberty ring, great and divine!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Rodric Anthony Johnson

Comments

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 18, 2021:

Pamela, thanks for reading this article. This year will be the first time we celebrate Juneteenth as a family. We plan to do family history as part of our celebration for the holiday. I have been a few ancestors that I can trace back to Europe and the others were former slaves. It will be so thrilling to discuss them as family members. I wonder if any of my ancestors went to Texas with slave masters and were freed in Texas! Juneteenth is truly a holiday for Black Americans to latch on to our heritage as Americans.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 18, 2021:

Bill, thanks for supporting my faith in America to reach its best version. I dream of a place where we can all feel like our nation is truly OUR NATION.

I love the United States of America but I see why others have a hard time doing that. I was taught to love my nation from a little kid, even when I was in the worst living situations.

I had a difficult early childhood, but this country afforded me the freedom to learn from it and progress. I am grateful for my ancestors who forged ahead through the terrible times so that I could forge through mine.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 18, 2021:

Change happens very slowly in this country, but I have to believe this is much-needed change which is much-overdue. America needs to continue to stretch its limits to find its true potential.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 18, 2021:

This is an interesting article about how Juneteenth cam about, Rodric. I am currently reading a book series about the Civil Was, and the Emancipation Proclamation. I know even people in the north didn't think about it much at first, but it was a giant step in the right direction.

I didn't know Texas celebrated Juneteenth first. I like what you said in your article as we all have to work to feed ourselves and care for our families.

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