Happy Juneteenth

Date Put forth on June 19, 2007 by XicanoPwr
Category Posted in History/Historia

I almost forgot Happy Juneteenth!!!

For those who don’t know what holiday falls on June 19, it is Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. Only 25 states in the US celebrate this day, Texas is one of them. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. The holiday started here in Texas.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived on Galveston Island to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation was originally issued on September 22, 1862, which became effective date on January 1, 1863, Texas really did care to comply with President Lincoln’s order. So, General Granger was ordered to take possession of the state from Confederate troops and enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of TX, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

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 at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

In 1980, Texas became the first of 25 states to officially recognize Juneteenth, but that is what it is, nothing more but just an “official day.” This is just the typical attitude this country has for it’s minorities. Because it benefited only one segment of society, people who bound and abducted from their homes and family and forced against their will to come here, this country still refuses to acknowledge African Americans by making this day a National Holiday.

We must revive and preserve Juneteenth not only as the end of a painful chapter in American history, but also as a reminder of the importance of preserving the lines of communication between the powerful and the powerless in our society.

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  1. Gravatar Icon Magniloquence Jun 20th, 2007 at 10:37 am

    *grins* Nice to see someone mention Juneteenth.

    We had the most horrid Juneteenth celebration here at work. It was like one of those racial parties that keep getting posted about, only the aim was to celebrate Juneteenth and educate, and the people who were in charge were black.

    … I came down late, but when I got there I was blown away. There was one of our residents (a big black man) stripped to the waist and strung up by a convincing-looking noose from a rafter (not being hung, of course, but with the rope around his neck and the other end held by an asian “overseer” type), two camps of “slave women” washing clothes (mostly asian women, because we’re an APIA targeted agency, even though our demographics don’t always reflect that), and a ‘chain gang’ (complete with real chains! and real hoes!) hoeing furiously at the ground in a corner while the two (Asian male) ‘overseers’ ran around screaming imprecations (complete with slurs, because, um… of historical accuracy or something) and ‘whipping’ them.

    This lasted for several minutes, with such happenings as someone attempting to run away and being whippped for it, a group getting taken away to be sold, women walking from ‘plantation’ to ‘plantation’ to trade laundry and ask for information about their relatives, and much screaming about babies. When it was over, sort of, the supervisors came in and read aloud the Emancipation Proclamation and gave a little speech about how, um… it was good that slavery was over? Or something? It was kind of confusing.

    Afterward, of course, they served hot links and hamburgers and barbeque and watermelon. All they were missing was cornbread and chicken wings.

    *sighs* None of which would have been so bad, really, except that the whole thing was campy and over the top (which, given that it was written and coordinated by our residents, shouldn’t really surprise anyone), and so the audience was just laughing hysterically throughout. And there’s something deeply disconcerting about watching a mostly asian audience howl with laughter while a tall asian man with a “gun” and a whip yells “Work, Nigger!” at a bunch of half-naked black men in chains.

    I mean, sure, the black men being yelled at were the ones that wrote the script, and there was a lot of community stuff that was the actual focus of the laughter (you know, seeing the quiet tall guy and the short flamboyant guy dressed up in prison outfits and yelling at people who are trying to stifle their laughter… or watching people make faces at each other, or giggling at the “pregnant” woman trying to push the pillow back into place on her stomach)… but I don’t know how much that alleviates it.

    Heh. Sorry for going off on such a tangent. I do wonder if part of the hesitation to make it official is the specter of celebrations like this one. While I doubt that’s the case, and it isn’t a compelling argument on any serious level, it certainly is enough to make me wince.

  2. Gravatar Icon Rev. Ronald Myers May 19th, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Juneteenth is America’s 2nd Independence Day celebration. 29 states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or state holiday observance, as well as the Congress of the United States.

    Together we will see Juneteenth become a national holiday in Amemrica!

    Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
    National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign
    National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
    National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)

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