In the past six weeks, I’ve learned many things that I never knew. And more importantly I didn’t know what it was I didn’t know. Things I should’ve been taught. Stories I should’ve heard.
As a white woman in her 60s raised in upstate New York and college educated, there is much information that may have changed so many things in my life.
Tulsa: I knew nothing of the Tulsa Massacre. How could this information been withheld for so many generations, including mine? How can it be that I learned in June 2021 about a massacre of men, women and children that occurred in the United States 100 years ago? Why hadn’t it been in my high school social studies curriculum, in my college curriculum?
Before moving to Galveston in 2004, I knew very little about Juneteenth. This year’s celebration of Juneteenth seemed more meaningful to me. To have a national holiday declared right on the fortnight of the 19th of June was impactful to me.
The highlight for me of the weeks leading up to Juneteenth was to be guided through an exhibit in Old Galveston Square by Sam Collins III. I had met Collins a few years ago and found him interesting, very direct and informative.
The Juneteenth Art Gallery is a combination of art gallery and an informative guided history tour. It doesn’t take long to learn things, most of us never knew. Why wasn’t this taught in my high school?
The art is quite moving. The emotions expressed by the artists are in some instances raw and still linger in my mind. The tour taught me many of the aspects of Juneteenth. The Emancipation Proclamation signed on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln was signed almost 30 months before it was announced in Galveston. Thoughts wander, why it took so long. Granted in that time period information was delayed, but 30 months?
Was it on purpose, what were the reactions of those who heard the news that day? Both the slave owners and the enslaved persons they held as property, what were their reactions, the fear, the delight, the disbelief; the impact must’ve been incredible. Was the result freedom, or fear? Loss or defiance? Were the enslaved afraid to react, was anger prominent among the enslavers? And to learn the war between the North and South was over?
I learned so much beyond the words proclaimed that day by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger on his arrival in Galveston. The true story of who were all the people that arrived with him, who actually wrote the speech Granger recited in our historic downtown on that day 156 years ago in front of the J.S. Sydnor building; the site which is now a parking lot.
Imagine the conflicts that arose before that day and afterward. I encourage everyone to take the time to visit the exhibit and take the tour of this story, listen and learn things that you too, probably never knew.