JuneteenthTexans celebrate the abolition of slavery during Juneteenth. More than two months after the end of the Civil War (which ended April 9, 1865), it was proclaimed in Galveston by Major General Gordon Granger that slaves were to be freed on June 19, 1865.
There are different stories associated with the Juneteenth event. Some say it was not exactly known when slaves were set free and land-owners kept the declaration to themselves to force slaves to harvest spring crops, and others tell of a Black rider spreading the word from town to town setting slaves free throughout the month of June.
Juneteenth celebrations of Emancipation Day have been an important avenue for older generations to teach younger people about their struggles and victories since the remembrance began in 1866. Prompted by Frederick Douglass, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, decreeing freedom for slaves.
Today, families celebrate that freedom on June 19th, and the weekends in close proximity, with picnics, sports events and other outdoor activities in Texas, as well as neighboring Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Popular public events include Juneteenth music festivals featuring important African American music genres such as gospel, jazz, blues and zydeco.
NEXT | Return to Cultural Crossroads