WHAT IS JUNETEENTH?
JUNETEENTH is the oldest known celebration of the Emancipation of African-Americans from slavery.It has become significantly more. It is celebrated in June, the month that the last African Americans were informed of their Emancipation. On September 22, 1862, during the Civil War (1861-1865),and at the insistence of Frederick Douglass, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Proclamation took effect on January 1, 1863. This is the true origin of watch night.
The Civil War ended in April of 1865. Following the end of the War, US Government officials were dispatched to order southern states to comply with the Emancipation Proclamation. The states of Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas were not a direct part of the Confederacy. They therefore did not comply to the mandate. Thus slavery processed until the end of the war.
It was not until June that a contingency of Buffalo Soldiers headed by Col. Gordon Granger arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865.
Col. Gordon Granger, representing the United States government, arrived in Galveston Texas and issued General Order #3 from the President of the United States. The order declared that all slaves were free.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. What began as a Texas holiday to celebrate Emancipation, became a holiday celebrated throughout the U.S.
Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month, marked with celebrations, guest speakers, barbeques, and family gatherings. It is a time for reflecting and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement, and for planning the future. Juneteenth has come to symbolize for many African Americans what the 4th of July symbolizes for all Americans: FREEDOM.