Series: WPH: Juneteenth (19)
From a local Minnesota TV station, June 16, 2020
Go buy this t-shirt:

June 19, 1865: “Juneteenth” Emancipation Day

From Zinn Education Project:


Although news of emancipation came at different times during that Texas summer and autumn 1865, local blacks gradually settled on June 19 (Juneteenth) as their day of celebration.  Beginning in 1866 they held parades, picnics, barbecues, and gave speeches in remembrance of their liberation.  By 1900 the festivities had grown to include baseball games, horse races, street fairs, rodeos, railroad excursions, and formal balls.  Two distinct trends emerged with these early celebrations.  First the oldest of the surviving former slaves were often given a place of  honor.  That place of honor rose direct proportion to the dwindling numbers of survivors with each passing year.   Secondly, black Texans initially used these gatherings to locate missing family members and soon they became staging areas for family reunions.

Teaching Juneteenth

A common mistake among those who teach the history of American slavery is to center the U.S. government’s role in granting freedom while also placing the onus to navigate through a racist society solely on the formerly enslaved.

In other words: The Emancipation Proclamation was signed January 1, 1863. Enslaved peoples did not hear of the news until over two years later. And the white general and military want a medal for that. But at least Al Edwards tried to make it an office Texas state holiday. When I read some articles about it, the levels of critical thinking skills to parse out some of the underlying racism and white supremacy to all my brain power. Our nation did not honor the blood taken during the Reconstruction. We have a chance to make things better, right, and just. If you believe in a higher power, and that higher power speaks to you, listen.

Texas Blazes the Trail

“On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition.  Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America.

If you, white person, don’t know much about Juneteenth it’s never too late. Imagine our nation and its ability to heal, and tap into its more generous and loving side, if Juneteenth had been made into a national day of remembering, asking for forgiveness, and most importantly: reparations.