Today is the date of the Celebration of Juneteenth.
EXIT OF THE DAY: EXIT 25A I-95s to Washington DC and Route 1, in Berwyn,Maryland
On June 19, 1865 — two months after the assassination of President Lincoln on April 15th -- Union General Gordon Granger led thousands of Union troops into the Texas port town of Galveston. What he encountered at first confused him.
Unpaid, abused, with no rights under the whip, African Americans still labored as slaves. Realizing the gravity of the situation, he commanded his troops to spread the word: he announced that the Civil War had ended. The last Slaves were now set free.
A quarter million Texan Slaves had no idea!
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States. Also known as Jubilee Day, it really commemorates the date that the last slaves learned that they were free.
In the North, African Americans had learned of their freedom when Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation three years earlier in 1862. The Proclamation was a Presidential Executive Order. Many of the freed slaves immediately signed on to fight as soldiers in the Union Army.
But many slaves in the South never learned of their freedom until they were liberated by Union troops. In south Texas, this would not be for almost 3 more years.
President Lincoln had issued the Executive Order to liberate slaves in September 1862 but it was not passed into law by Congress until January 1, 1863.
Fast forward to recent history. President Obama displayed a keepsake of the date in the West Wing of the White House. President Obama once said:
“Outside the Oval Office, I kept a painting of a small crowd huddled around a pocket watch, waiting for the moment the Emancipation Proclamation took effect…”
“…On Juneteenth, we celebrate the anniversary of that news, freedom, reaching slaves in Texas. And something more:
"On Juneteenth, we celebrate our capacity to make real the promise of our founding...
"...that thing inside each of us that says America is not yet finished, that compels all of us to fight for justice and equality, until this country we love more closely aligns with our highest ideals.”
Happy Juneteenth, America!
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