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What is Juneteenth?

What is Juneteenth? Diversityandinclusion

While we all celebrate and know about the day the United States became free on the 4th of July, it still took 87 more years for Abraham Lincoln to emancipate slavery and free the Black slaves

Juneteenth, is an American holiday celebrated annually on June 19; it is also known as Freedom Day, or Jubilee Day.

It is a celebration of the journey and freedom of Black people in the US. It is a great opportunity to remind all Americans of the many contributions that

Black people have contributed to the American culture.

It commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that all previously enslaved people in Texas were now free.

It is important to know that the “Emancipation Proclamation” that freed the 250,000 enslaved people in Texas had been issued By Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863 or 2 years and half before General Grander announced it in Galveston, Texas.

So, the enslaved people were actually free for 2 and half years and didn’t even know it.

There were few reasons for that:

  • Texas is a large state and the General’s order and the manpower needed to spread and apply it were slow to come

  • No one was in a rush to let them know

  • Some say that some Texans suppressed the announcement

  • Another theory is that the messenger that carried the news was murdered to prevent him from propagating or sharing the news

  • The Federal government then postponed it to get one more cotton harvest on the books before announcing it

  • The proclamation that was issued by Abraham Lincoln might have not been enforceable before the end of the war in the rebel states

As per the Proclamation, the slaves were freed, and offered equality of equality of personal rights and rights of property, where the relationships changed from masters and slaves to employer and hired labor.

The freedmen were advised to work for wages but staying at their present homes.

But most did not want to stay where they were enslaved working for the people that enslaved them even if they were paid for heir work. So, many left Texas to connect with family members or better welcoming places in the northern regions – it was known as “The Scatter

At this point, you would believe that things will change for the well-being of the Blacks that were just freed after suffering for decades.

But the sad reality is that many were not allowed to leave as their previous owners still felt as if they were still their property.

If they tried to leave, they were attacked, beaten, and even lynched or murdered. It did not stop there, around the first celebration of the Proclamation instead of being able to celebrate their freedom, Segregation laws were spreading like fire.

Blacks were not permitted in public places or parks. But, out of the darkness, light always follow so instead, of surrendering to a sad fate, in 1870 former enslaved people came together and raised $800 to purchase 10 acres of land that will be called the “Emancipation Park” later on. It became the only swimming pool and public park open to African Americans till the 1950s.

The Emancipation Proclamation has a place among the documents of “Human Freedom” though it was limited as it applied only to states that had seceded from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states.

Parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) were exempt as they came under the Northern control. It did not end Slavery across the United States but it was a great first step to start.

The Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom. (

Juneteenth celebrations diminished during the times of Jim Crow, till Martin Luther King Jr scheduled the Poor People’s March during the 1960s civil rights movement to correspond with the Juneteenth date to bring it back front and center. It was taken back to the different states and the holiday was reborn.

In 1980, Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth a State Holiday.

How are you celebrating Juneteenth, share it here. Give a shout out to a Black business or a Black person to celebrate for achievements or success- You can tag them here

“The more you know about your history, the more liberated you are” – Maya Angelou

Diversity starts at home,

Diversity starts at home,


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Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh

Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist

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