We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
DIED: 1876 in Santa Fe, NM.
CAMPAIGNS: Dug Spring, Wilson's Creek, New Madrid, Island #10, Corinth, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Fort Gaines and Morgan, and Mobile.
HIGHEST RANK ACHIEVED: Major General.
|Gordon Granger was born in Joy, New York, on November 6, 1822. He graduated from West Point in 1845, and was brevetted twice for his service in the Mexican War. Until the beginning of the Civil War, Granger was part of the Mounted Rifles on the frontier. When the war began, he fought under Brig. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis at Dug Spring and Wilson's Creek, Missouri. He became a brigadier general on March 26, 1862, and commanded troops at Campaigns of New Madrid, Island No. 10 and the Corinth. After leading several brigades in the Army of the Ohio in 1862, he was promoted to major general on September 17, 1862. Granger was a short man, a strict disciplinarian and unpopular among troops. Nevertheless, he led his forces effectively, and contributed to the Union war effort. He took part in the Battle of Chickamauga, during which Maj. George H. Thomas and his troops attempted to cover the Union retreat by standing firm at Horseshoe Ridge. Although he had not been ordered to do so, Granger sent two of his three brigades to support Thomas' corps, helping the Union troops hold the Confederate forces back until dark. This action allowed Maj. Rosecrans' troops to pass safely. He once wrote to Rosecrans: "the battle is neither to the swift nor to the strong but to him that holds on to the end. "Granger later took part in the Siege of Knoxville and in the capture of Mobile, Alabama. After the Civil War, he was on sick leave a great deal of the time. Granger died in Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory, on January 10, 1876.|
9 Things to Know About the History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States.
On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger led thousands of federal troops to Galveston, Texas to announce that the Civil War had ended, and slaves had been freed. Approximately 250,000 Texan slaves had no idea that their freedom had been secured by the government.
However, the history of freedom in this country can be tangled, and this is no exception.
Here are nine facts about the historical moment, and what led up to it.
1. You may recall Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation from elementary social studies classes. In the condensed version, many learn that this executive order meant immediate freedom for slaves throughout the nation. However, since the country was in the midst of the Civil War, those states that had seceded from the Union did not adhere to the Proclamation, and slaves in those states remained unfree.
2. Though much of the language in the Emancipation Proclamation suggests otherwise, Lincoln’s primary objective was not to ameliorate the lives of those in bondage. Rather, his intent was preserving the Union.
In August 1862, Horace Greely, the editor of the New York Tribune, published an editorial addressed to Lincoln pressuring his stance on slavery and urging him to abolish it. Lincoln responded in an open letter to Greely, published in the Tribune that same August:
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or destroy Slavery,” Lincoln wrote. “What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union. ”
3. Lincoln and the Union army used slavery as a political motive to justify strengthened military endeavors against the Confederacy. Black soldiers were able to fight for the Union when Lincoln passed the Proclamation. Though they faced discrimination and often performed menial roles because of presumed incompetence, they increased the Union army in size.
4. The Civil War ended in April of 1865. In June of that year, General Gordon Granger and his troops traveled to Galveston, Texas to announce “General Orders No. 3” It stated: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.
5. Throughout the war, Texas was not as closely monitored as other battle states. For this reason, many slave owners went to Texas with their slaves. With its relatively negligible Union presence, slavery continued there for much longer. After the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, slaves in wartorn states often escaped behind Union lines or fought on its behalf
6. The slaves who got the news were jubilant to hear of their freedom on Juneteenth. In the book, “Lone Star Pasts: Memory and History in Texas,” Felix Haywood, a former slave who gave a testimony about Juneteenth as part of a New Deal project recalled:
"The end of the war, it come jus’ like that—like you snap your fingers….Hallelujah broke out….Soldiers, all of a sudden, was everywhere—comin’ in bunches, crossin’, walkin’ and ridin’. Everyone was a-singin.’ We was all walkin’ on golden clouds….Everybody went wild. We was free. Just like that we was free.”
7. Freedom did not come at the “snap of a finger” for everyone in Texas. Some people who should’ve been freed continued to work through the harvest season because their masters withheld this announcement to reap more wages out of their slaves. This left many former slaves treated as though they were still in bondage.
In “Lone Star Pasts” Susan Merritt reported:
“Lots of Negroes were killed after freedom. bushwhacked, shot down while they were trying to get away. You could see lots of Negroes hanging from trees in Sabine bottom right after freedom."
8. In the 1870s, a group former slaves pooled $800 together through local churches to purchase ten acres of land and create Emancipation Park to host future Juneteenth celebrations in modern-day Houston.
9. In 1980 “Emancipation Day in Texas” became a legal state holiday in recognition of Juneteenth. However state offices do not completely close, as it is considered a "partial staffing holiday." Elsewhere, the holiday is also referred to as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day.
Many continue to celebrate Juneteenth 151 years later. Throughout the nation people host cookouts, parades, and other gatherings to commemorate.
Juneteenth and General Order No. 3
The 156th Galveston Juneteenth Celebration 42nd Annual Al Edwards’ Celebration will be livestreamed on this page starting at 9:45 a.m. this Saturday. Please refresh the page at that time for the video.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Event is free and open to the public.
Contact: Pete Henley, Old Central Board President, 409-392-0317
Saturday, June 19, 2-7 p.m.
A family-friendly celebration of freedom.
Contact: Lawanda Ward, 409-457-3570
Marchers may gather at Reedy at 5:45 to walk over to the Courthouse together, or they may choose to meet at the Courthouse at 6:00 pm. The march route is about 3 1/2 blocks.
Contact: Sharon Gillins, [email protected]
Featuring interviews with: Sam Collins – initiator of the Juneteenth Legacy Project, Reginal Adams – principle artist of the mural “Absolute Equality,” Ms Opal Lee – tireless champion for a Juneteenth national holiday, and musical performance by contemporary violinist Dominique Hammons.
Contact: Sharon Gillins, [email protected]
THE HISTORY OF JUNETEENTH
J uneteenth and General Order No. 3, read on June 19, 1865 announcing that all slaves were free, is one of Galveston’s most important historical moments. US President Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. Issued under powers granted to the president “as a fit and necessary war measure”, the proclamation declared, “That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward and forever free…” However, Lincoln’s proclamation would have little impact on Texans at that time due to the small number of Union troops available to enforce it.
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. – General Order No. 3
Two and a half years later, in June of 1865, more than two thousand Federal soldiers of the 13th Army Corps arrived in Galveston and with them Major General Gordon Granger, Commanding Officer, District of Texas. Granger’s men marched through Galveston reading General Order, No. 3 at numerous locations, including their headquarters at the Osterman Building, 1861 Custom House, courthouse, and then the Negro Church on Broadway, as Reedy Chapel-AME Church was referred to then. The order informed all Texans that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves were free.
It was from that moment that Juneteenth would be born. Since then, the annual commemoration has grown from local roots to a national celebration featuring parades, readings, processions, and more. In the late 1970s, the Texas Legislature declared Juneteenth a “holiday of significance […] particularly to the blacks of Texas”. Texas was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday under legislation introduced by freshman Democratic state representative Al Edwards (Houston). The law passed through the Texas Legislature in 1979 and was officially made a state holiday on January 1, 1980. After Texas recognized the date, many states followed suit. Currently, 47 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or ceremonial holiday, a day of observance.
In 1979, the Galveston Juneteenth Committee under the leadership of former city manager Doug Matthews and Texas Representative Al Edwards initiated an annual Juneteenth Celebration on the lawn of Ashton Villa at 2328 Broadway. The event commemorates the reading of General Order No. 3 through prayer, reflections, and community leadership. In 2006, the Juneteenth Committee with the City of Galveston erected a statue of the reading of the order that remains a permanent reminder to residents and visitors of the June 19, 1865 event. The City of Galveston transferred the building and grounds in November 2018 to Galveston Historical Foundation who preserved and managed the property since 1970.
GENERAL ORDER NUMBER 3
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 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.
CELEBRATIONS, PROCESSIONS, PICNICS, AND PARADES
As African-Americans from Galveston and Texas migrated to other areas of the country, they took Juneteenth with them. Today the nineteenth of June is celebrated in more than 200 cities throughout the United States. In Galveston and elsewhere, Juneteenth is observed with speeches and song, picnics, parades, and exhibits of African-American history and art.
The history of celebration commemorating Juneteenth and General Order No. 3, is significant and is a defining piece of modern commemorations. On January 2, 1866, Flake’s Bulletin, a Galveston newspaper, reported on an Emancipation Celebration.
“The colored people of Galveston celebrated their emancipation from slavery yesterday by a procession. Notwithstanding the storm some eight hundred or a thousand men, women and children took part in the demonstration. The procession was orderly and creditable to those participating in it. A meeting was held in the colored Church, on Broadway [present day Reedy Chapel], at which addresses were delivered by a number of speakers, among whom was Gen. Gregory, Assistant Commissioner of Freedmen. The General gave them a great deal of good, plain advice, which, if they follow, will redown to their well being and prosperity. The Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln was read. The singing, John Brown’s body lies mouldering in the ground, was also a part of the programme. So far as we observed there was no interference nor any improper conduct on the part of spectators.” – Flake’s Bulletin, 2 January 1866.
After some years of reportage of a flagrantly racist nature, the white Galveston newspapers gradually moved to a less-biased accounting of the Emancipation celebrations, and by 1878 an anonymous reporter had this to say of the day’s celebrants:
“The old plantation melodies …were transformed into a new song and the sunshine of the dreams that once dwelt in their hearts burst full and fair upon them as they both felt and realized the fullness of the freedom that is now theirs—not only to enjoy but to perpetuate….The conclusion of the day went out amid the pleasures that always cluster about the ball-room (sic), and if a memory of olden times came back from the ringing shout of the dancers as the ‘break-down’ was getting the benefit of their ‘best licks,’ it is to be hoped that the contrast suggested more of pleasure than regret. The colored people of Galveston certainly deported themselves creditably in celebrating ‘their 4th of July.'” – Flake’s Bulletin, 20 June 1878.
When the above was written, the newspaper was also printing wire reports from across the state devoted to Emancipation celebrations in Brenham, Marlin, Liberty, Bastrop, and elsewhere. African-Americans throughout Texas observed June 19 with parades and picnics, speeches, and dancing. In many communities, groups bought their own land for this and other events, often naming these tracts Emancipation Park.
The days of “monstrous and brilliant” parades in Galveston gave way to more private Juneteenth celebrations in the middle years of the twentieth century, with families gathering for beach parties and cook-outs. Churches observed Emancipation Day with the reverent singing of the song “Lift Every Voice” (the official song of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and the plea to remember the significance of the nineteenth of June and the joy of freedom.
TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION MARKER
In 2014, the Texas Historical Commission placed a subject marker at the corner of 22nd and Strand, near the location of the Osterman Building, where General Granger and his men first read General Order No. 3. The marker reads:
Commemorated annually on June 19th, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S. The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Sep. 22, 1862, announced, “That on the 1st day of January. A.D. 1863, all person held as slaves within any state…in rebellion against the U.S. shall be then, thenceforward and forever free.” However, it would take the Civil War and passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution to end the brutal institution of African American slavery.
After the Civil War ended in April 1865 most slaves in Texas were still unaware of their freedom. This began to change when Union troops arrived in Galveston. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, commanding officer, District of Texas, from his headquarters in the Osterman building (Strand and 22nd St.), read ‘General Order No. 3’ on June 19, 1865. The order 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.” With this notice, reconstruction era Texas began.
Freed African Americans observed “Emancipation Day,” as it was first known, as early as 1866 in Galveston. As community gatherings grew across Texas, celebrations included parades, prayer, singing and readings of the proclamation. In the mid-20th century, community celebrations gave way to more private commemorations. A re-emergence of public observance helped Juneteenth become a state holiday in 1979. Initially observed in Texas, this landmark event’s legacy is evident today by worldwide commemorations that celebrate freedom and the triumph of the human spirit.
ABOUT GALVESTON HISTORICAL FOUNDATION
GHF was formed as the Galveston Historical Society in 1871 and merged with a new organization formed in 1954 as a non-profit entity devoted to historic preservation and history in Galveston County. Over the last sixty years, GHF has expanded its mission to encompass community redevelopment, historic preservation advocacy, maritime preservation, coastal resiliency and stewardship of historic properties. GHF embraces a broader vision of history and architecture that encompasses advancements in environmental and natural sciences and their intersection with historic buildings and coastal life and conceives of history as an engaging story of individual lives and experiences on Galveston Island from the 19th century to the present day.
Juneteenth Isn't Just a Celebration of the End of Slavery. We Also Honor the Black Americans Who Helped Create Their Own Freedom
I f you ask Black people born and raised on the island, Juneteenth marks the day Black soldiers in blue uniforms came with their guns to Galveston. That is the story they have told for generations, about the moment some of their ancestors knew freedom had finally arrived in Texas, the westernmost Confederate breakaway state.
That&rsquos the truth as it&rsquos widely understood by Black people in Galveston, even if the common story of that day often focuses on a single white man: General Gordon Granger, who led Union troops to the harbor there on June 17, 1865. Two days later, records in the National Archives tell us, he issued what&rsquos known as General Order No. 3.
In doing so, Granger laid out the meaning of freedom more explicitly than any U.S. government official had to that date, says Robert C. Conner, author of General Gordon Granger: The Savior of Chickamauga and the Man Behind &ldquoJuneteenth.&rdquo The order declared &ldquoabsolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.&rdquo As word spread, so did jubilation, shock, religious awe and anger.
Declaring freedom and creating it are two different things, as Deborah Evans, secretary and director of communications with the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, tells me. After all, Granger was there because, though the Emancipation Proclamation had liberated the enslaved in the Confederate states, slaveholders in places like faraway Texas still clung to the idea that U.S. law didn&rsquot apply to them.
Among the Black and white troops who came to Galveston to enforce the Union&rsquos dictates was William Costley, who with his two sisters and mother had been the first enslaved people freed by a then newly minted lawyer named Abraham Lincoln in 1841. The KKK would try to burn certain records of that case, and portions of his service records went up in flames, thanks to another KKK faction. Costley himself was likely illiterate, says Carl Adams, who wrote the book Nance about Costley&rsquos mother&rsquos fight for freedom. Whatever the young soldier felt in Texas has, like so much that happens to those whose lives are not thought worth recording, been lost.
The story of William Costley, the baby freed by Lincoln who grew up to set others free, like the story of Juneteenth, cannot be told fully without oral tradition. Yes, newspaper accounts of organized Black public revelry&mdashand white enmity&mdashsurvive. But so too, in some circles, have folk stories attesting that some of the Black soldiers in Galveston that day changed history by insisting that Granger make clear the freedom of those still enslaved. If he didn&rsquot do it, the story goes, they would do it themselves.
My grandmother&rsquos grandmother was a child made free that June day&mdashhowever it happened. But Black people have always been involved in the fight to make our own American lives, demanding something of the country that stole so much from us. That fact is, by folktale and firm record, key to the Juneteenth story.
Last year, Juneteenth came to an America awakened to racial injustice, prompting new groups to recognize a holiday heretofore celebrated mostly by Black people with Texas connections. This year, it&rsquos a reminder of the fight.
A Senate bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday failed in 2020 by one vote. On Tuesday, a similar bill was passed by the Senate it is likely to be passed by the House. Among those Senators who cast their votes was Jon Ossoff, a Georgia Democrat whose election this year helped flip the Senate. His victory has been widely attributed to the organizing power and electoral force of the Black vote.
Two days after that first Juneteenth, the New York Herald published a dispatch from Macon, Ga., whose white citizens finally saw that &ldquoslavery is dead and nothing remains but to bury its carcase [sic].&rdquo Abraham Lincoln was gone by then, but he probably would have liked General Order No. 3 for making a national reality plain and involving in its delivery the Black troops he praised, says David S. Reynolds, author of Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times.
For those whose Juneteenth story does not put Black people at its center, consider that there is no evidence that Granger ever spoke about his role in freeing Texas&rsquo estimated 250,000 slaves. But Black people have kept telling the story&mdashand each time that happens, Juneteenth is created anew.
&mdashThe View is reported by Mariah Espada and Simmone Shah
A version of this piece appears in the June 22, 2021 issue of TIME
Editorial: Juneteenth reminds us that the American story is full of progress and pain
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn are credited with pushing to make Juneteenth the 11th federal holiday.
Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less
A Juneteenth marker in Galveston
Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau Show More Show Less
Members of The Creatives, a Houston-based art collective including Reginald Adams, work on a mural commemorating Juneteenth in Galveston on Saturday, April 10, 2021. When completed, the mural will feature a way for people to learn more about the people depicted using their smart phones.
Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less
Ms. Opal Lee, 92, of Fort Worth leads a group of followers on her walking campaign for Juneteenth holiday awareness through the streets of Galveston Island, Texas on September 14, 2019.
Leslie Plaza Johnson, Freelancer / Contributor Show More Show Less
In the noble and necessary effort to consider American history through the prism of its original sin, slavery, the date June 19, 1865, has become an epochal moment.
That hallowed day in Galveston when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the U.S. Army informed the people of Texas that all slaves had been freed is, in a sense, memorialized for its tardiness. Granger&rsquos order was delivered more than two months after the end of the Civil War and more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln had effectively ended slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation.
&ldquoThis involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves,&rdquo Granger&rsquos order read, &ldquoand the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.&rdquo
In many ways, we haven&rsquot lived up to the promise of those milestones. Lincoln&rsquos proclamation is forever etched in history as the document that ended the forced bondage that helped build this country, while Granger&rsquos order was a reminder of our nation&rsquos foundational value of &ldquoabsolute equality&rdquo that we are still striving for 156 years later.
As recently as six months ago, the torpid progress toward that goal suffered yet another stunning setback. On Jan. 6, Confederate flags were marched through the U.S. Capitol by hundreds of insurrectionists whipped up by President Donald Trump to interrupt a Senate vote certifying the results of the presidential election. Hours after that horrific attack that left five dead, 147 Republican members of Congress still decided to subvert democracy by voting against accepting returns from all states.
And yet, on Tuesday, the U.S. Senate &mdash a deliberative body that these days can&rsquot agree that the sky is blue &mdash unanimously passed a bill to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday. The bill then passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, with only 14 Republican representatives voting against it, and President Joe Biden signed it Thursday. Juneteenth is the 11th national holiday recognized annually by the federal government.
The historic legislation was the culmination of years of bipartisan lobbying by two Congress members from Texas, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Houston Democrat, and Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican. Until recently, the bill was treated as a pipe dream, despite the fact that 47 states already consider Juneteenth a holiday. African Americans have been celebrating Juneteenth since 1866 and Texas was first to recognize it as a holiday in 1980.
While Jackson Lee&rsquos steadfast advocacy &mdash she has introduced the bill in every session of Congress for more than a decade &mdash kept Juneteenth in the national conversation, Cornyn&rsquos involvement was critical in getting it nationally recognized. The senator drew inspiration from a meeting last year with Opal Lee, a 94-year-old Black woman from Fort Worth who for years has hosted 2.5-mile walks in cities across the country to raise awareness about the effort to recognize Juneteeth as a federal holiday. The self-described &ldquolittle old lady in tennis shoes gettin&rsquo in everyone&rsquos business,&rdquo swayed Cornyn to put his political muscle behind pushing the legislation past opposition from within his party. He helped persuade Sen. Ron Johnson. R-Wis., to drop his objection, allowing it to pass by unanimous consent.
But the 14 House votes against the Juneteenth bill show why federal recognition is so important. Though members defended their nay votes on semantics &mdash they said the formal name of the holiday is too similar to that of the July 4th holiday &mdash the objections track closely with the rhetoric of those who deny the existance of systemic racism and its enduring influence on housing, health, work and educational opportunities in America.
The ugly truth is that slavery was integral to laying the foundation of American prosperity, including here in Texas. Saying so doesn&rsquot undermine the fact that other forces were at play too, such as democracy, the rule of law and business and social innovation, much of it driven by immigrants. Those things are frequently credited with the success of the American experiment. But not accepting that other, darker forces were also playing out is a kind of historical amnesia that robs our history of its full, flawed and ultimately inspiring dimensions.
That&rsquos our concern with the bill Gov. Greg Abbott signed Wednesday &mdash House Bill 3979 &mdash that instructs teachers to only describe slavery and racism as &ldquodeviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to, the authentic founding principles of the United States.&rdquo
In other words, in the state that put Juneteenth on the map as a day of celebration, Texas public school teachers now appear forbidden from giving their students the full historic context of its origin: the racism that delayed the message of emancipation for so long.
&ldquoThese innocent people,&rdquo James Baldwin wrote to his nephew in a 1962 essay, &ldquo&hellip are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.&rdquo
One of the best parts of America is that as a nation we continue to try to understand our past and to grow from it. But that progress comes only when we resist crosscurrents that would have us believe in a whitewashed history, in Texas and elsewhere.
The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act celebrates the fact that America is both a country that held millions of its people in bondage and one that sacrificed much to end slavery. That blood-stained history of pain and healing is reflected in Galveston, once the largest slave market west of New Orleans but now home to a beautiful mural marking Juneteenth as a pivotal moment in the history of our nation.
If we are ever to live up to Gordon Granger&rsquos Juneteenth promise of absolute equality, we must be allowed to confront our history head on, and learn from it. By recognizing the new holiday, America has given itself an opportunity to measure its progress toward that goal every year from now on.
The debate over teaching slavery in schools
When Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Harvard law school professor Annette Gordon-Reed was growing up in Texas, slavery wasn’t a topic teachers were equipped to discuss.
“When slavery in Texas was mentioned, it was presented as an unfortunate event that was to be acknowledged but quickly passed over,” Gordon-Reed writes in her book “On Juneteenth.”
Gordon-Reed also doesn’t remember learning about Juneteenth in school, but “there should have been some discussion of it,” she said in interview with USA TODAY.
“I understand the real fears that people have that Juneteenth will go the way of Memorial Day, where people forget that this holiday has its roots in a Black community, ” said Niambi Carter, associate professor of political science at Howard University.
“My bigger concern with Juneteenth is that people won't want to tell the truth of what the holiday really represents,” said Carter. “And in this atmosphere where we have politicians not just talking about but turning it into policy that you cannot tell the truth, around the horrors of enslavement, that you cannot tell the truth around the horrors of Jim Crow.”
Critical race theory, a legal theory that explores the way slavery and racism continue to impact American society, is a controversial topic of debate. State legislatures are passing laws that discourage schools from teaching on race and equity.
Florida has banned its public schools from teaching critical race theory, as well as the New York Times' "1619 Project," which reframes history through the lens of slavery.
Texas state Rep. Steve Toth introduced a bill that would limit teachers from discussing race in the classroom and block schools from receiving donations to develop programs around critical race theory. Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new law, effective July 1, targeting critical race theory. It bans teaching that the United States or Iowa is fundamentally racist or sexist.
This month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the "1836 Project," which aims to promote “patriotic education” when it comes to Texas history. The project is named for the year that Texas seceded from Mexico.
A demonstrator waves an American flag with the words "Not Free" painted on it in front of the Washington Monument during a Juneteenth march and rally in Washington, DC, on June 19, 2020. (Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS, AFP via Getty Images)
Critics are concerned the project will whitewash history by ignoring the legacy of slavery.
“Talking about Juneteenth is a way to drive the history home that there was slavery. You had to have Juneteenth because of the way African American people were treated at this time they were seen as chattel,” said Gordon-Reed. “I certainly wish these efforts were not going on, but this is a way of being adamant about the institution of slavery and the role that it played in the development of Texas and in where we are now.”
For Carter, Juneteenth is about remembering enslaved African Americans' freedom and struggles to rebuild their lives amid societal hostility to Black progress.
“We have to really thank the people of Texas for keeping that tradition for so long for the rest of us to become aware and really take ownership of this sort of collective date of remembering,” said Carter. “And it's not just a day of remembering people. It’s a day of remembering people’s perseverance. People were in an incredibly, incredibly oppressive and depressed situation that they survived. It's astounding to me.”
Juneteenth misconceptions and hidden history, per Houston professor
There are many misconceptions about what Juneteenth represents. And FOX 26 Houston speaks with Dr. Gene Preuss, professor of history at the University of Houston-Downtown to help break that down.
HOUSTON - There are many misconceptions about what Juneteenth represents.
Now a federal holiday, June 19th marks the day in 1865 when Union Army general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.
"If you talk to people around Houston I think they have a general understanding," says Dr. Gene Preuss, professor of history at the University of Houston Downtown. "We&aposve got Emancipation Park, First Ward where Jack Yates and others set up freedom colonies…so we’ve got a couple of areas in the Greater Houston Area where Juneteenth is celebrated and certainly known."
Yet Dr. Preuss finds many people still don’t understand the time gap between the Emancipation Proclamation’s signing and Juneteenth.
"People kind of forget𠅊nd I think this is largely because of the way we teach the history of the Civil War—that Texas and other states in the south considered themselves a separate nation," Dr Preuss reminds. "When Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, as far as Texas and the 11 confederate states were concerned it had no effect."
The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in September of 1862, about 2 years before General Granger&aposs arrival. But the Civil War was still ongoing.
While many consider the April 4, 1895 surrender of Robert E. Lee to be the end of the war, Dr. Preuss points out, "the South had other armies. Texas and Louisiana were under confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith. He didn&apost surrender until May 26 and so it’s just a couple of weeks later that Gordon Granger arrives."
Contrary to popular understanding, Juneteenth was likely not the day enslaved Texans learned of their freedom.
"If you open up the Houston newspapers and the Galveston newspapers of the time it was on everybody&aposs lips that the confederate nation was falling apart," Dr. Preuss says. He believes enslaved people had likely read about the Emancipation Proclamation and been waiting for it to be enforced in the South.
"The military was put in charge of overseeing the enforcement," explains Dr. Preuss. "It was very difficult. There were a lot of arrest. There are a lot of military trials and, to be quite honest, there was a lot of brutality among some former slave owners."
After the Civil War, Dr. Preuss says Southern plantation owners saw the Emancipation Proclamation as a temporary policy. "They saw no reason for freeing their slaves. The idea was this is just a temporary phase and as soon as ‘right-minded people take control we&aposre going to get our slaves back and everything will go back to normal.’ They couldn&apost imagine a world where slaves were freed," says Dr. Preuss.
Juneteenth is also celebrated as a milestone in breaking down notions of white supremacy in North America. Dr. Preuss points out that, at the time, even more liberal-minded Americans in support of emancipation were slow to fully respect the lives of Black residents.
"They might say, ‘well, maybe at some point they&aposll become eligible for full citizenship, but not now,&apos" Dr. Preuss explained. "They would say, ‘well as soon as the Blacks are free they&aposll go off to Mexico, or we&aposll send them out West and they&aposll mix with Native Americans, but we don&apost want them here with us."
Many see Juneteenth as also celebrating those who fought for emancipation. Dr. Preuss says those who risked or sacrificed, their lives helped push even the most adamant confederates to change their tune.
"The highest-ranking Texan serving in the confederacy was John H. Reagan. He was the Postmaster-General for the Confederate States of America.
Reagan, after the war, was arrested and imprisoned at Fort Donalson where he pens this letter to Texans and he says, ‘look, things can go one of two ways: they can either be very harsh for us, or they can be easy for us, and if we want them to be easy you&aposre going to have to accept the end of slavery and you&aposre going to have to allow African Americans the right to vote.&apos"
Many hope Juneteenth can be a celebration not only for Black Americans but for those who stood on the right side of history. While its roots are bloody and dark, Juneteenth is seen as a celebration of the United States’ ongoing efforts toward realizing our root ideal of freedom for all.
"Emancipation meant freedom, but there was still a struggle," Dr. Preuss concludes. "We’re still living in some of that struggle. A lot of young people say that&aposs long past but we don&apost have to look too far to see its effects."
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Teresa Palomo Acosta, &ldquoJuneteenth,&rdquo Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 19, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/juneteenth.
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and &ldquoFair Use&rdquo for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Haven't heard of Juneteenth? Here's what you need to know
Juneteenth is celebrated as the end of slavery in the U.S.
Celebration, reflection and progression are what historians say some African Americans across the country anticipate each year with the commemoration of Juneteenth.
American history lessons generally teach that when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, it ended the Civil War and slavery.
But it took another 30 months and 19 days for the order to be carried out in Galveston, Texas -- the last area of the Confederate States of America where African Americans were still enslaved.
Texas was one of the seven Confederate States of America, and even when Lincoln's executive order was enacted on January 1, 1863, "they weren't going to recognize that anyway," said Dwayne Jones, chief executive officer of the Galveston Historical Foundation.
"In fact, there were slave owners who moved from parts of the South, from slave states, to continue the practice of slavery in Texas because they knew they could practice there for a longer time without interruption," said Kelly E. Navies, a museum specialist and oral historian with the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Jones said that when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, with a force of 2,000 Union troops dressed in red to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, it was "very significant."
Granger read a synopsis of the Emancipation Proclamation and the last enslaved people in the U.S were free.
In the beginning, the day was known as Emancipation Day, and the first celebration kicked off in January 1866, when about 1,000 African American families gathered in Galveston for a peaceful presentation at one of the city's earliest African American chapels, said Jones.
During the church-oriented event, a hog was roasted as songs filled the air in between readings of the proclamation.
A combination of the month and date of Granger's arrival in Galveston transformed the holiday into the name it's been known as for over 100 years: Juneteenth.
"The celebration of Juneteenth gives people a chance to pause and think about the history behind what we are going through right now," said Navies. "It gives people the opportunity to ask themselves what are the root causes to the racial conflicts we are experiencing."
Juneteenth 155 years later
Observances of Juneteenth have generally become more secular, but the tradition remains as celebrations have expanded to cities including Buffalo, Kansas City and Chicago.
This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many traditional in-person Juneteenth gatherings have been scheduled to take place through livestreaming services like Facebook Live and Zoom.
The police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 and the protests that followed have generated an increased interest in the history of Juneteenth.
"We thought for the 150th anniversary five years ago, we would have gotten more attention, but it really took, unfortunately, other events in order to bring attention to it," said Jones.
Navies said the conflicts between African Americans and police can be traced back to the Reconstruction Era that occurred between 1865 to 1877.
"Police stations and all of that were formed with the determination to control the newly freed African Americans, and that continues till this day," said Navies. "Juneteenth resonates on so many different levels with Americans in this contemporary era."
"We have to fight for more than just justice there has to be the ability to prevent situations that allow us to be the sort of victims we have been," said James Felton Keith, who is running to represent New York's 13th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.
In New York City, Keith has organized the "Juneteenth 1,000,000 March NYC," where civil rights and grassroots organizations are expected to gather -- with masks and gloves on -- in front of City Hall, "where the most power exists," Keith said. The group plans to march through Manhattan and paint a Black Lives Matter street mural outside City Hall, which is also across the street from the police department's headquarters, said Keith.
"Every march post-George Floyd is about justice, but this one is about policy change and that's why we are marching starting at City Hall," said Keith. "No power, no justice, no peace."
Navies said it makes sense that activism is associated with Juneteenth, "because here, you have people still struggling to achieve the civil rights they never fully gained."
"This is what it is about: What does freedom mean and how do we achieve that freedom?" she said.
Juneteenth after 2020
Keith said he grew up celebrating Juneteenth with his family by going to rallies in Gary, Indiana, and other cities, and he is disappointed and ashamed that it took this long for the day to get wide recognition.
"Juneteenth is now on people's radar even though we have been using it to validate our existence which has been wiped away from us for generations," Keith said. "Juneteenth truly represents freedom."
Jones said he sees the increased interest as an opportunity to keep the momentum going and expand the history of Juneteenth into classrooms.
"We teach American, local, state, regional history through a limited lens," Jones said. "I'm sure the Emancipation Proclamation is discussed, but Juneteenth is not talked about. That's something we feel needs to be changed . It does need more attention in the educational system and it does need recognition as a national holiday."
Is Juneteenth a national holiday?
Juneteenth is now a national holiday, as a law passed by Congress commemorating the event in more formalized terms was recently signed by President Joe Biden. The official recognition was spurred in large part by a wave of protest and social upheaval in the summer of 2020, which compelled a broader segment of the corporate sector to acknowledge it.
Still, the day has long been recognized by a vast majority of states in some capacity . It s official induction as a holiday reflects public sentiment, as more than a third of Americans were in favor of the move , according to a new Gallup poll. A federal holiday is the appropriate form of enshrinement the day deserves, and it’s imperative that we recognize it on a deeper level every year moving forward.
This story was originally published on June 15 and was updated on June 17, 2020 to reflect additional information.