Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, Black history, and Black culture. But what if we redefined it as a time to recalibrate or change the way we think about it?
Juneteenth (June 19) originated in Texas in 1865 when Gen. Gordon Granger announced General Order No. 3 in Galveston that “all slaves were free.” That was two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law effective January 1, 1863.
As historians note, emancipation redefined the Civil War, shifting it from a struggle to preserve the Union to a focus on ending slavery and reshaping the historic conflict.
It’s commonly thought that enslaved persons in Texas and several other Southern states hadn’t received word about emancipation. But in reality, while the confederacy was still in power, the law wasn’t being enforced — until Gen. Granger and his 2,000 troops showed up.
Today, there has been a shift in this country due in large part to the impact of the murder of George Floyd, a native of my hometown of Houston, resulting in bright lights being shined on police brutality, injustice, racial inequities, white privilege and the two-tier system that exists in America.
As a result of that shift, Juneteenth officially became the eleventh federal holiday on June 17, 2021, after being signed into law by President Joe Biden.