Juneteenth, also referred to as Freedom Day, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It was on June 19th of 1865 that Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little influence over the Texans due to a lack of Union presence to enforce the Executive Order. Only with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to enforce the new order.

Exactly what caused this two-and-a-half-year delay in the receipt of the Proclamation is speculative. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas. Another is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain their plantation’s labor force. Yet another is federal troops waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before moving to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or none of these versions could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question. Whatever the reasons, slavery in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former ‘masters’ – attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom. For others, the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove some into Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free people brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territories.

The celebration of June 19th was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.

Learn More: http://thetimesweekly.com/news/2019/jun/19/why-juneteenth



“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 they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Gordon Franger issued General Order No. 3, which informed the people of Texas that all enslaved people were now free. Granger commanded the Headquarters District of Texas, and his troops had arrived in Galveston the previous day. This day has come to be known as Juneteenth, a combination of June and nineteenth.


The 13th Amendment was necessary to end the argument about whether or not slavery was legal in the US. As the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in its entirety nor did it address the issue of slavery in territories that would become states in the future, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was drafted. Ratified on December 6, 1865, nearly 3 years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment was the official end to slavery in the United States.

Learn more about The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution


Adapted from: Why Juneteenth, by C. Dwayne West, 6/19/20

“The 13th Amendment also persuaded the United States Supreme Court to extend protection against slavery to other races: ‘Negro slavery alone was in the mind of the Congress which proposed the thirteenth article, it forbids any other kind of slavery, now or hereafter. If Mexican peonage or the Chinese coolie labor system shall develop slavery of the Mexican or Chinese race within our territory, this amendment may safely be trusted to make it void.’

“African Americans have a long history of forcing this country to be better; of fighting to open the doors of opportunity for everyone; of succeeding against the odds. We do not have to manufacture a holiday for recognition. We need only look back at our history to learn that there are a number of events we could celebrate as a nation other than being last. Yes, America celebrates the Fourth of July, but without us, the Declaration of Independence would still be a lie. Now, celebrate that!”

Watch this short video on Why All American’s Should Honor Juneteenth:



The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration By Isabel Wilkerson

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this beautifully written masterwork, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

This work tells the story of the Great Migration, the movement of Black Americans out of the Southern United States to the Midwest, Northeast and West from approximately 1915 to 1970. Throughout the twentieth century, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

With historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties.


By Anette Gordon-Reed
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The essential, sweeping story of Juneteenth’s integral importance to American history, as told by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Texas native.

Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond. All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers, and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all.

Combining personal anecdotes with poignant facts gleaned from the annals of American history, Gordon-Reed shows how, from the earliest presence of Black people in Texas to the day in Galveston on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of legalized slavery in the state, African-Americans played an integral role in the Texas story.

Reworking the traditional “Alamo” framework, she powerfully demonstrates, among other things, that the slave- and race-based economy not only defined the fractious era of Texas independence but precipitated the Mexican-American War and, indeed, the Civil War itself.

In its concision, eloquence, and clear presentation of history, On Juneteenth vitally revises conventional renderings of Texas and national history. As our nation verges on recognizing June 19 as a national holiday, On Juneteenth is both an essential account and a stark reminder that the fight for equality is exigent and ongoing.


By Ibram X. Kendi

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a “groundbreaking” (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society—and in ourselves.

“The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.”—The New York Times

Kendi relates his evolving concept of racism thematically, through the events of his own life over four decades, touching on observations and experiences as a child, young adult, student, and professor, from classes he has taught, via contemporary events such as the O. J. Simpson robbery case and 2000 United States presidential election, and through historical events such as the scientific proposals of polygenism in Europe in the 1600s and racial segregation in the United States. Kendi further details the manifestations of racism, such as scientific racism, colorism and their intersection with demographics including gender, class and sexuality.

Kendi comes to define racism as any policy that creates inequitable outcomes between people of different skin colors. Therefore, a person is not “a racist” (noun). A policy is “racist” (adjective). Policy is made by the powerful. He examines his own internalized racism and disagrees with the prejudice plus power model of racism, which would not allow for Black racism.

Finally, he suggests models for anti-racist individual actions and systemic (i.e. policy) changes.


Community History of African America, 1619-2019 

By Ibram X. Kendi

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A chorus of extraordinary voices tells the epic story of the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present—edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire.

“From journalist Hannah P. Jones on Jamestown’s first slaves to historian Annette Gordon-Reed’s portrait of Sally Hemings to the seductive cadences of poets Jericho Brown and Patricia Smith, Four Hundred Souls weaves a tapestry of unspeakable suffering and unexpected transcendence.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

The story begins in 1619—a year before the Mayflower—when the White Lion disgorges “some 20-and-odd Negroes” onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States. It takes us to the present, when African Americans, descendants of those on the White Lion and a thousand other routes to this country, continue a journey defined by inhuman oppression, visionary struggles, stunning achievements, and millions of ordinary lives passing through extraordinary history.

Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.

This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present.


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