Dawned with the most vibrant attire, beaded jewels, and elaborate hair styles, Juneteenth was the day freed slaves were able to freely express themselves. This was not the case prior to the abolishment of slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation, declared by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, did not go into effect until 1863 when Union General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Texas to enforce the emancipation and take possession of the land. Granger stated:
“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.”
Juneteenth, effectually known as Freedom Day, is not only important to the legacy of African-American history but the tapestry of American history. It symbolizes the shear courage and certitude African-Americans possessed in fighting for racial equality and economic stability. The hand print of post slavery achievements can be seen in the rich framework of colleges and universities and beautifully elaborate churches that is the backbone of our culture today. In addition, their contributions through science, technology, inventions, education, and politics can be viewed throughout American history.
June 19th is the day that we pledge our allegiance to those that walked before us to make our lives better. Never forgetting that we are not where we should be but we are not where we were.