Every American should know the historical significance of Juneteenth.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important and historical news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory law.
Juneteenth’s growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significantand lasting improvements in our society.
Juneteenth is observed as a state holiday or state observance in 40 states, with a few celebrations even taking place in other countries.
The Central Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring meeting to help plan this years Juneteenth celebrations and extends an initation to the community to participate in those planning meetings.
Meeting Dates: March 26th, April 9th, April 23rd, May 14th, May21st.
Meeting Location: 2100 Bldg. (Tree House), 2100 24th Ave So, Seattle, WA
Meeting Time: 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
concact: Richard Johnson, C.A.C.C. President, (206)325-2864