Slavery in the US has been a common practice since the early 1770s. Slaves were primarily Africans or African-Americans who were under the property of well-off Europeans and even Americans. Under the protection of the law back then, an enslaved person could be sold, given away, or bought. But things changed after the Thirteenth Amendment in the year 1865. June 19th that year was when the slaves were finally given their freedom. They were no longer slaves but were already people who could make their own choices and decisions. But despite the announcement, freedom was never absolute. In this list of Juneteenth facts, find out more about the struggles of freed slaves and how this celebration brought hope and dignity again to those who have been through so much oppression.
- Juneteenth is an annual commemoration of the end of slavery in the US.
- The first celebration of Juneteenth was June 19, 1865.
- Texas slaves were freed only 2 years after January 1, 1863, which was the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln.
- Juneteenth is a holiday celebration in the US for 155 years already.
- The emancipation delay did not only affect the Juneteenth celebration but the 250,000 people who remained slaves even after they were freed.
- Juneteenth is a blended term for the words June Nineteenth.
- It was originally a celebration in Texas but 47 states in the US acknowledge it today.
- Only Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, and New York recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday for their working force.
- The mark of Juneteenth was when the troops of General Gordon Granger went to Texas to announce General Order Number 3 freeing all slaves.
- News travels slowly back in the day that’s why Juneteenth was not celebrated right away by the freed slaves.
- After the end of the civil war, slavery was abolished and so was the birth of the Juneteenth holiday.
- Historians report that slave owners in Texas know about the proclamation on Juneteenth but withheld the information for their benefit.
- The book of Felix Haywood, “Lone Star Pasts: Memory and History in Texas”, includes stories about the first celebration of Juneteenth.
- Juneteenth is also a day of opportunity and remembrance of the history and culture of African-Americans.
- A Harvard professor said that Juneteenth has become an occasion for measuring the progress of freedom, gathering of lost family, and racial uplift.
- The Juneteenth holiday before was celebrated with singing rituals and prayer meetings.
- Texans who first got to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday wore new clothes for the occasion as it symbolizes newfound freedom.
- The General Order for the Juneteenth Celebration means that all slaves in Texas are free and that they have absolute personal and property rights.
- Strawberry soda pop was a popular drink for Juneteenth celebrations.
- Donald Trump moved his 2020 presidential campaign from June 19th to the 20th in Oklahoma to respect the Juneteenth holiday.
Juneteenth has gone through so many names.
One of the least known Juneteenth facts is that this celebration has been through so many names. Before it became the Juneteenth that we now know, it has gone through several name changes. Some of the few names are Cel-Liberation Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Second Independence Day, and Jubilee Day.
A park in Houston was bought specifically for the Juneteenth celebration.
Richard Allen, Elias Dibble, Jack Yates, and Richard Brock bought a 10-acre parcel of land. This was in 1872 and it was only for $800. The park is now known as the Emancipation Park located in Houston, Texas. Owners of the land were former slaves and they got it specifically for the celebration of Juneteenth.
Juneteenth celebrations declined during the 20th century.
The Jim Crow laws were local and state laws enforcing racial segregation in the US. This was then the cause of the dampening of freedom celebrations. Juneteenth got affected by this, too. Also, black farming families fled from rural areas to other urban environments to look for work. This was mainly because of the Great Depression. As a result, many families had difficulty in taking days off to celebrate the holiday to commemorate their freedom. Truly, one of the saddest Juneteenth facts on this list.
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Civil Rights Movements revived the Juneteenth celebration.
In 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. organized the Poor People’s Campaign. It was an effort for the poor people in the US to gain equality and economic justice. The movement was purposely done by King to coincide with the date of freedom celebrations in Washington. Those who were at the march took the same kind of celebration to their towns and states. Soon enough, the holiday then got reborn.
The General Order includes encouragement for the slaves to remain to their current owners.
There was a portion in General Order No. 3 advising the freedmen and women to stay with their owners. The freed slaves will not be given any support if they become idle anywhere in the country so they were given the advice to stay with their owners and work quietly. It does not come for free as the employers should pay them appropriate wage and compensation.
After Juneteenth, there was “The Scatter”.
Despite the recommendation from the order to remain in their owner’s place, former slaves left their posts when they heard the original reading. The following weeks after the proclamation that they are already free, they left their state in great numbers. They went away to look for better opportunities and reunite with family members. These Juneteenth facts are just amazing in every way.
The freedom after Juneteenth was a struggle for many slaves.
The proclamation announcement did not sit well with the slave owners in Texas. They were not eager to part with them as they feel like the African-American slaves were their property. When the freed slaves tried to leave, some were beaten and even murdered. Their former owners would catch the slaves swimming across the river. They would heartlessly shoot them.
The design of the Juneteenth flag has a lot of meaning.
L.J. Graf was the designer of the Juneteenth flag. The flag has a bursting star in the center with the color blue on top and red on the lower portion. The star in the center pays respect to Texas and the bursting star signifies new people and freedom. The colors blue, red, and white echo the flag of America which symbolizes that the people who became slaves were also Americans.
Juneteenth is not yet a federal holiday.
Although most states in the US now recognize the celebration, it’s not yet a national holiday. It’s the oldest celebration in the US in commemoration of the end of slavery in the country. Only Hawaii, North, and South Dakota do not recognize the Juneteenth holiday. The rest of the 47 states do. Definitely an intriguing reality in this list of Juneteenth facts.
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Some groups and cities have Miss Juneteenth pageants.
Through the years, the celebration of Juneteenth has evolved. From just a usual gathering of family and friends, it has grown into a tradition. Some states in the US celebrate it with pageants and contests like Miss Juneteenth. Celebrations for the commemoration vary. Some would have marches, parades, and barbecues. While other states in the US would have prayers, Juneteenth flag raising, and public service awards.