General Order No. 3
On June 19, 1865, General Granger stood on a balcony in Galveston, Texas and 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. (Juneteenth. State of Texas website. Retrieved 2012-06-09)
After hearing this, former slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets, celebrating the abolition of slavery. Although this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation- which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact for the Texans.
That day has since become known as Juneteenth. An annual celebration beginning in Texas, Juneteenth also know as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. It is a holiday honoring African American heritage by commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865. Traditions include a public reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. It also includes parades, rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, and park parties. Juneteenth is the oldest know celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States and has been an African American tradition since the late 19th century.
In 1994, a resurgence of Juneteenth surfaced, known as the “Modern Junetteenth Movement”. In 2000, the annual Washington Juneteenth National Holiday Observance and the campaign to establish Juneteenth Independence Day as a National Day of Observance was established. As of 2011, 40 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to officially recognize Junettenth. Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievements while promoting self-development and respect for other cultures.