The History of Juneteenth
By: Princess Murchison and Sophia Checa
THN recognizes the long-term and continued impacts of slavery. For example, in homeless services, we know that Black people make up more than 40% of those experiencing homelessness, but represent 13 percent of the general population. To increase education of service providers, THN staff has created a condensed history of Juneteenth and encourages our partners around the state to continue education on the history of being Black in America.
History of Juneteenth
The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abaraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863 to free Black enslaved people in the United States. Many people believe the Emancipation Proclamation freed all black people who were enslaved in the United States, but it only applied to the enslaved people of rebels in the South and there were specific areas where it did not apply. Many enslavers in Texas kept the news of the Emancipation Proclamation hidden from slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation did not have much impact in Texas because there were not enough Union soldiers to enforce it.
On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Union soldier Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and broke the news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free:
“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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
Once the news broke, many of the enslaved did not know what to do. Some stayed and worked as indentured servants while many went to neighboring states to reunite with family. While Black people were no longer enslaved, they experienced numerous challenges once freed including segregation by the local and federal governments and finding employment, housing, and healthcare.
It is important to learn about the history of enslaving Black people in America and remember and acknowledge that after freedom the oppression of Black people continued despite Juneteenth marking the end of slavery in America.
The items below were chosen to share the history prior to Juneteenth, the history and importance of Juneteenth, and history post-Juneteenth.
The African-American Migration Story
New York Times. This History and Meaning of Juneteenth
National Museum of African American History and Culture
“What is Juneteenth?”, Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Michael Hurd, “Let Freedom Ring”, Texas Highways
P.R. Lockhart, Why Celebrating Juneteenth is More Important Than Ever
PBS. Freedom Riders. “Jim Crow Laws”
Jeff Olivet, Amanda Andere, Marc Dones, Brittani Manzo, and Jessica Venegas. A Brief Timeline of Race and Homelessness in America.
PR. Housing Segregation and Redlining in America: A Short History
“Making A Way Out of No Way”, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Ava DuVernay, 13th, available to stream on Netflix or on Youtube.
Make Juneteenth a National Holiday in 2020