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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.

And join us online this Friday, June 19 at noon EST as six leading Black museums and historical institutions join forces to launch blkfreedom.org, a digital commemoration of Juneteenth.