Opal Lee Juneteenth March

Teyah Fanuiel, 4, carries a sign during a walk in Galveston on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, to support recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday.

The historical importance of Juneteenth is one that will never fade away. If you’re a frequent reader of this newspaper, you’ve seen us not only promote the celebration, but you’ve also seen where we, for years, have supported efforts on making Juneteenth a National Day of Observance.

Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and delivered the news that slaves in Texas had been liberated two years earlier, in January 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Angela Wilson: 409-683-5239; angela.wilson@galvnews.com 

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(8) comments

Samuel Collins III

Thank you Angela!!! Galveston County we need your support. Please sign the petition and encourage others to do the same.

Bailey Jones

I encourage everyone to sign Opal Lee's petition to have Juneteenth made a national holiday, and support Senator John Cornyn and Sheila Jackson Lee's bill to create an Emancipation National Historic Trail from Galveston to Houston. How often do you get to be bipartisan these days?

Adrienne Bell

A National Historic Trail in Galveston would not only be good for the economy, it would tell the complete story of the emancipation in this part of the country. Additionally, the creation of Juneteenth as a National Holiday would be a step in progress for our country.

Raymond Lewis

Done! Thanks Angela.

Charlotte O'rourke

I signed as well. It is an important event in history, and hope the campaign to establish the date as a national day of observance is successful.

John Cole

This may not be politically correct, and that is okay. The Truth is that the Emancipation Proclamation, given by Lincoln as a speech in 1863, was baloney. Most of all, the E. P. ONLY applied to the Southern Confederacy states. The slaves in the northern states were still under the same prohibitions as before the speech was given by lincoln; however, this is not spoken about when referring to the Emancipation Proclamation. There were just as many slaves in the northern states, so the E. P. was an invalid and hypocritical document by 'Honest Abe' which is an oxymoronic name of this failed president. djc

Bailey Jones

The Emancipation Proclamation was just one of a series of emancipatory events (of course, all but 4 of the Union states had already abolished slavery by 1860). The first of these was the Confiscation Act of 1861 which authorized the confiscation of any Confederate property by Union forces, including slaves. This was followed in 1862 by the Second Confiscation Act which stated that any Confederate official, military or civilian, who did not surrender within 60 days of the act's passage would have their slaves freed.

Also that year came the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act which freed the slaves in DC and partially compensated their owners. (Lincoln had proposed this while a congressman in 1849, but it was defeated by southern Democrats.) This event has been celebrated in DC as Emancipation Day since 1866. On September 22, 1862, Lincoln issued a preliminary warning that he would order the emancipation of all slaves in any state that did not end its rebellion by January 1, 1863.

The Emancipation Proclamation (an executive order, not just "a speech") was made effective January 1, 1863, and freed the 3.5 million Americans held in bondage in ten states that were in active rebellion against the United States. In his 1864 campaign, Lincoln pushed for passage of the Thirteenth Amendment which would free all Americans in all states, and insisted that Reconstruction plans for Southern states require abolition in new state constitutions. Meanwhile, Maryland and Missouri voted to abolish slavery within their borders. Congress passed the 13th Amendment on January 31, 1865, and it was ratified on December 6, 1865, ending slavery as a legal institution in the United States.

The civil war ended on April 9, 1865 - three months after Congress had passed the 13th Amendment, but before it had been ratified. Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, when the reality of the Confederacy's defeat reached Texas in the person of General Gordon Granger, who assumed command over the state, and announced to the slaves of Texas that they were free.

The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, which declared ex-slaves to be US citizens, and the 15th Amendment (February 3, 1870) gave (male) blacks the right to vote. Female blacks got the right to vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment.

After Reconstruction, southern racists passed Jim Crow laws which effectively revoked the right of blacks to vote and continued doing so until the 24th Amendment in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Jim Crow laws also effectively re-instituted slavery in the south in the form of debt peonage which lasted until about WWII. Black Americans are still incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their criminality.

Raymond Lewis

Thanks Mr. Jones, evidently someone knows naught of what they speak.

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