7 Things Every American Should Know About Juneteenth
Texas is rooted in a deep, rich history with traditions that span cultures, generations, and hundreds of miles. While most people from the Lone Star State may know about significant battles like the Alamo or San Jacinto and historical figures including James Bowie and Stephen F. Austin, the history of African Americans in Texas has its own powerful and pioneering significance. We’re taking a deeper dive into Texas History with an exploration of Juneteenth. Enjoy a quick history lesson with these seven key things every proud American should know about the historic holiday.
- Juneteenth is a celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It is celebrated on June 19th of every year.
- Enslaved African American Texans did not know about their freedom until two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which became official on January 1, 1863.
- There are many theories as to how and why the news of liberation was withheld from Texan slaves. According to Juneteenth.com, many historians believe President Lincoln’s authority wasn’t well-received or respected by Texan slave owners, who were staunch supporters of the then defeated Confederate Army. In consequence, these slave owners refused to recognize their slaves as free men and women and continued overseeing them as property and free laborers for more than two years in harsh and inhumane conditions.
- Once freed slaves learned of the news, reactions ranged from overwhelming shock to jubilation. Many free men and women began their journey to the North to find separated family members and establish their lives, while others planted roots in Texas as recognized citizens.
- Juneteenth is celebrated in Texas, nationally and worldwide. The day is one of reflection, renewal and pride. Parades, festivals and church services are organized to commemorate and respect the sufferings of slavery and the progress made by African Americans to U.S. history.
- Juneteenth has its own flag. Designer L.J. Graf created the flag with a star in the middle nestled on a horizon among red and blue fields to represent a new freedom and a new people.
- Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth a holiday in 1980. Many other states followed suit soon after.
You can learn more about Juneteenth by visiting the links below:
By: Paige Turner, YMCA of Austin