By: Jerry Humphrey III

June 19th is a date celebrated by African American families all across the country. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

In 1865 two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation major union soldier General Gordon Granger alerted the people of Galveston, Texas that the Civil war had ended and they were free people. In some southern states, the Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on them and blacks were still living as slaves.

“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 heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.” General Order 3 by General Granger.

This news resulted in immediate jubilation from the blacks in Galveston. Festivals happened across the town and many began to settle in new states such as Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

Today Juneteenth is celebrated with great magnitude in the black community because it signifies achievement and liberation. Families all over come together and partake in picnics and gatherings and embrace the heritage our ancestors built for us in 1865. To this day the city of Galveston hosts annual Juneteenth festivals and people commute to that area for the event.

This year Juneteenth became the 11th federal holiday after congress signed it into law. It took a community to get this passed and now most federal workers will get that day off. Have A Happy Juneteenth! And may we remember to keep our ancestors spirits alive as we celebrate them for their bravery and courage that shaped our world. Let’s be our ancestors wildest dream!