Imagine this: It’s June 19, 1865.
You are a slave in Galveston, Texas, and have spent your entire life in bondage, in which you’ve endured numerous cruelties.
Suddenly, all that changes when General Granger of the Union Army arrives in town with news: Slavery has been abolished and all slaves are officially and legally free. You have no idea where you’ll live tomorrow or how you’ll make a life off the plantation, but you know you will succeed because the most important thing is that you are finally free.
The first decision you make as a free woman is to join the other newly freed slaves in celebration at the nearest black church.
Nearly 150 years ago, the slaves in Galveston went through this very event, which today, is known as Juneteenth (or the Black Fourth of July). It is the oldest event celebrating the end of slavery.
While Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation officially outlawed slavery in 1863, it took more than two years for the Union forces to overcome the resistance in Texas. Upon hearing the news, the freed slaves gathered in local churches to pray, reconnect with family, and commemorate the end of their enslavement.
In the following years, Juneteenth became an important tradition for the descendants of slaves and the African-American community at large. Today, the event remains popular and is seen as a time for self-reflection and improvement. Most importantly, it is a time to reflect on the history that continues to influence us all.
What Juneteenth celebrations are going on around your way? Share the details below!!