Juneteenth & Why EVERYONE Should Care

Diane Lilli

“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.” —General Orders, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865

Juneteenth is a day that celebrates the legal freedom of enslaved Black people.  Yet, Juneteenth is now celebrated as a federal holiday in only 20 states. Obviously, there is more work to be done, since this vital date is an important historic day for our country. 

This date honors the day in 1895 when Union soldiers shared the news to enslaved Black people in Galveston Texas, two years after the fact, that they were free.  Of course, the very slow timing of spreading this life-changing news is appalling: this was two years AFTER  President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had become law.

However, in Texas and other places, enslavers ignored and resisted the new orders and hid the news from the enslaved Black people. 

Today, many communities across the US celebrate this date, as the beginning of freedom for some, but not all, enslaved Black Americans.  A Gallop poll in 2022 reports 6o percent of Americans knew about Juneteenth. 

But depending upon where you live,  the celebration in honor of this historic date varies dramatically.  

This important day is as vital to our country as Memorial Day or Veteran's Day.

If you want to learn more about Juneteenth, here are some great links for you to click.