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The History of Juneteenth

Jennifer Rangubphai [CC BY-SA 40 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Friday is June 19th, or Juneteenth. It’s the holiday commemorating the formal announcement of the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas, and more broadly the emancipation of slaves throughout the former Confederate States of America.

On June 19th, 1865, Union Army Major General Gordon Granger issued an order that began: “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.” This proclamation came two months after the formal end of the Civil War, and two and a half years after The Emancipation Proclamation.

And while General Granger did not know it at the time, this proclamation, and the date it was declared, would go on to become the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States.

This is a portion of a conversation we had with Jarrett Eady, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the School District of Lee County, and a board member of the Lee County Black History Society; and Dr. Jeffrey Fortney, Assistant Professor of History at Florida Gulf Coast University. You can hear the entire conversation HERE.

Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University. 
Julie Glenn is the News Director and the host of Gulf Coast Live. She joined the WGCU team in November of 2016 to expand the Gulf Coast Live call-in radio show from once a week to five days a week.  Since then, the show has been recognized in state and regional competitions and has featured artists, political leaders, historians, environmental experts, doctors, local reporters, and national and international scholars. After leading the station's award-winning coverage of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017, Julie was named Interim News Director. In January of 2018, she launched WGCU's first podcast: Grape Minds.