Juneteenth is going to get an official Texas Historical Marker.
And it’s going to be on The Strand, where countless visitors will get a chance to learn something of June 19, 1865, the day that slavery effectively ended in the United States.
The marker will be at 22nd Street and Strand, which was the site of Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger’s headquarters. Granger issued General Order No. 3, notifying the slaves they were free.
Getting the marker is a big deal. Congratulations to the African-American Heritage Committee of the Galveston Historical Foundation, under the leadership of Leonce “Hank” Thierry Jr., for getting the job done.
Juneteenth began in Galveston, but it’s a story of national significance. Juneteenth was the day slaves in Texas were told — definitively, with the authority and power of the U.S. Army behind the message — that they finally were free.
Because of geography and the slow communications of the day, the slaves in Texas were the last to hear those words in that way.
Sure, the slaves — and those who kept them enslaved — had heard about the Emancipation Proclamation, which had gone into effect on Jan. 1, 1863. But it took a while for the U.S. Army — the power to enforce that policy — to prevail in the Civil War.
The fighting ended in Virginia in April 1865. Gradually, slaves in the last remaining parts of the Confederacy were freed. Texas, then on the frontier, was the end of the line.
And so it came to be that people in Texas were the last to celebrate the end of slavery. They did so on June 19, based on an event that occurred in Galveston.
It’s a wonderful story — sad and hopeful at the same time. And those of us who live here ought not be shy about telling it.
Next year — June 19, 2015 — will be the 150th anniversary of the day slavery ended in the United States of America.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see a big crowd on The Strand to celebrate?
At a glance
WHAT: Dedication ceremony to commemorate the Texas Historical Marker
WHEN: 10 a.m. June 21
WHERE: 22nd Street and The Strand, in downtown Galveston
INFORMATION: Contact Will Wright, director of marketing and special events for the Galveston Historical Foundation, at 409-765-3404 or firstname.lastname@example.org.