Juneteenth: Transcending The Past
My fellow Texans, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (1 Peter 5: 8-9). Texans, all of us should resist the influences of evil (devil), and submit ourselves to the Will of God, love, and serve each other.
On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in American society. However, slaves in Texas did not learn of their freedom until June 19, 1865, two years later: Better late than never, but lest we forget slave owners knew.
The Emancipation Proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free”. Unfortunately, The Emancipation Proclamation was not comprehension in many ways. It only applied to Southern states that had seceded from the Federal Union, leaving slavery in-tact (un-touched) in Confederate-border-states like Texas. The Emancipation Proclamation even exempted certain segments of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. But, more importantly, the freedom promised to slaves depended upon a Federal-Union-Military-Victory. Texans played little or no role in the Confederacy (Civil War); but were mercenaries, just like Donald Trump.
On June 19, 1865, Union Soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston with the liberating news that the Civil War had ended, and that all slaves were free. This historic date has become one of the most widely celebrated dates in Texas history especially among Black Texans, and is called “Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day or Juneteenth.”
Henceforth, “Juneteenth” has become a celebration and cultural appreciation of Black heritage: the good, the bad, as well as, the ugly. Simply put, Juneteenth is a day that commemorates the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865, as well as, the emancipation of Blacks throughout the Confederate South, and is commonly thought of as the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery in American society. Its historic popularity has spread across the United States and even beyond America’s “shining” shores”.
On June 3rd, 1979 spearheaded by State Representative, AL Edwards, the Texas State Legislature officially declared June 19th as an official state holiday (JUNETEENTH). However, the state of Texas spends a very small amount of taxpayer dollars promoting this event in comparison to what is spent on celebrating July 4th, and even more on the battle of San Jacinto the Independence of Texas.
Without a doubt, Juneteenth is much more, and must always be more than a (festive and fun) entertainment holiday. Juneteenth must be a day, whereby, Blacks celebrate their freedom, embrace their cultural heritage, and economic achievements over against many institutional-racist-obstacles. To be sure, legal conversations, speared-headed by the local NAACP, ought to be in play concerning the legality of economic “REPARATIONS”.
This June 19, 2016 will denote 151 years of celebrating this historic event.
But, more importantly, Juneteenth must be a day whereby all Americans rejoice in the real meaning of FREEDOM, because for a society to enslave some, it must invariably enslave all. “Thank God Almighty, Free At Last”, because it is the Will of God: “that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the King.” (1 Peter 2: 15-17). Selah!