A quick history of Black Independence Day (Juneteenth) – June 19th

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Juneteenth, also know as Black Independence Day is celebrated every year on June 19th. The day is celebrated similarly to the Fourth of July, with cookouts, music, education programs and gatherings. Here is a quick guide to its history.

At it’s peek in 1840, there were approximately 59,000 slaves in the United States. In the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring freedom for all slaves in the Confederate states. However, it wasn’t enforced in the South. The Emancipation Proclamation was specifically difficult to enforce in Texas because of the lack of Union soldiers, in fact, after it was signed many slave owners moved to the state for this reason. By the end of the Civil War in 1865, the amount of slaves in Texas increased by tens of thousands.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger road into Texas with Union Troops and read the orders at the Headquarters District of Texas in Galveston. The orders read:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

From that day forward, freed people took the streets in celebration in Texas with song, and rejoicing together. The holiday slowly spread throughout the United States and is still celebrated today. Find events in your city and join the celebration!

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a secular community that celebrates life. Visit the events page to see what’s happening in the community: Events

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