Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved are now free. This was 2 ½ years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. This order from the President had little impact on Texans due to minimal troops available to enforce it. However, they overcame their resistance once military forces were strong enough to influence them.
Once order was established, it was announced that the slaves would now be seen as equals and should be paid for the work they do. The reaction to this news was both shock and jubilation. While many lingered with the plantation owners, many more went north to stake their grasp of freedom. The celebration of June 19 was coined “Juneteenth.” The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. This celebration continues and is revered decades later.
If you would like to learn more, go to www.juneteenth.com
Written by: Kris Fisher, June/July 2021 issue of Pilgrim's Progress, Grafton, WI