By: Ashley Tillery
June 19, 2017 marks 152 years since the abolition of slavery in Texas. Juneteenth Independence Day, also known as Freedom Day, is a holiday that celebrates the ending of slavery in Texas and the emancipation of African American slaves throughout the south.
On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all slaves were to be freed in the Confederate States of America in rebellion. The Emancipation Proclamation became effective on January 1, 1863. Texas was not labeled as a battleground, so its slaves were not affected by the Emancipation Proclamation, unless they escaped.
In 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 slaves in Texas. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived to Galveston, Texas to officially announce the emancipation of slaves:
“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. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
We celebrate the freedom that African Americans long deserved and the freedom to reach for our goals and accomplish what our enslaved African American ancestors have yet to achieve.
Happy Juneteenth everyone! In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”