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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Juneteenth Celebration


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the holiday. For the work by Ralph Ellison, see Juneteenth (novel).
Juneteenth

Juneteenth celebration in Austin, Texas, on June 19, 1900.
Also called
Freedom Day or Emancipation Day
Observed by
Residents of the United States, especially African Americans
Type
Ethnic, historical
Significance
Emancipation of last remaining slaves in the United States
Date
June 19
Observances
Exploration and celebration of African American history and heritage
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States honoring African American heritage by commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. State of Texas in 1865. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth,[1] and is recognized as a state holiday or state holiday observance in 41 states of the United States.[2][3]

Contents

Observation

The state of Texas is widely considered the first U.S. state to begin Juneteenth celebrations with informal observances taking place for over a century; it has been an official state holiday since 1890. It is considered a "partial staffing holiday", meaning that state offices do not close, but some employees will be using a floating holiday to take the day off. Schools are not closed, but most public schools in Texas are already into summer vacation by June 19th. Its observance has spread to many other states, with a few celebrations even taking place in other countries.[4][5]
As of June 2011, 42 states[2] and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or state holiday observance; these are Alabama, Alaska,[5] Arizona, Arkansas, California,[5] Colorado, Connecticut,[5] Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas,[3] Kentucky,[6][7] Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi [8][9] Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey,[5] New Mexico, New York,[5] North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas,[2] Vermont,[2] Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.[10]
Eight states have not recognized Juneteenth: Hawaii, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Utah.

History

Ashton Villa, from whose front balcony the Emancipation Proclamation was read on June 19, 1865.
Though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863, it had minimal immediate effect on most slaves’ day-to-day lives, particularly in the Confederate States of America. Many liberated slaves died during emancipation as a result of the illness that devastated army regiments. Freed slaves suffered from smallpox, yellow fever, and malnutrition. [11] Texas, as a part of the Confederacy, was resistant to the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth commemorates June 18 and 19, 1865. June 18 is the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. On June 19, 1865, legend has it while standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of “General Order No. 3”:
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.[12]
That day has since become known as Juneteenth, a name coming from a portmanteau of the words June and teenth like nineteenth and other numbers ending with -teenth.
Former slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets with jubilant celebrations. Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year.[12] Across many parts of Texas, freed people pooled their funds to purchase land specifically for their communities and increasingly large Juneteenth gatherings — including Houston’s Emancipation Park, Mexia’s Booker T. Washington Park, and Emancipation Park in Austin.[12]

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