📢 Let’s take action: there is a link in my bio to sign a petition created by Opal Lee, a 93 year old woman from Texas, to make Juneteenth a national holiday. If the petition reaches its goal of 500K signatures, they will work to have legislation update US code 36, which is the list of official US observances, to add Juneteenth.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers 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.
Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important 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 none of these versions could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln's authority over the rebellious states was in question. Whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.