Why Juneteenth?

Think about how we get the news today. Between on-line newspapers, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube Live, and 24-hour news, we have instant access to news around the world. I’ve noticed that is seems harder to get the news in my neighborhood than it is to find the latest celebrity news.

Now, consider what I learned in school about the freeing of slaves:

  • Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation
  • The North won the Civil War
  • We freed all the slaves

Well, that’s an oversimplification. We can, at least, take a look another layer of the onion.

  • Well into the Civil War, on September 22nd, 1962, Abraham Lincoln signed The Emancipation Proclamation.
  • That proclamation became effective January 1, 1963, effectively freeing slaves.
  • Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse April 9th, 1965 marking the traditional end of the Civil War
  • The Western Army did not surrender until June 2nd of the same year.

Despite these facts, there was no social media or 24 hour news network of the day. In many cases, it was not until the presence of Union troops in an area, that slaves and slaveowners understood that by order of the President and by victory in an act of war, that slaves were free. The Island of Gavelston, TX, was one of the most remote location that became aware of this on June 19th, 1865.

However, since that day, June 19th has been celebrated as Juneteenth also known as Freedom, Jubilee, Liberation or Emancipation Day. Being technical free was not the end of the story. However, we’ve found a way to celebrate even the small victories. Announcing the intention and proclamations of President Lincoln was the start of making a egregious wrong right.

For that, we celebrate.