Juneteenth: Our Country’s Second Independence Day

Because the end of English Rule didn’t mean all were free.

Emancipation Day Celebration band
Emancipation Day Celebration band, June 19, 1900, Texas

“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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

— General Order 3. Gordon Granger, June 19, 1865, Gavelston, Texas

Though the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863 it was, to say the least, not easily implemented on Confederate ground. Only when Granger’s 2,000 federal troops reached the westernmost state of the Confederacy did Lincoln’s Proclamation have teeth in Texas.

The first anniversary of the order was celebrated by Texans in 1866. Juneteenth is now a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the end of slavery.

Though slavery was abolished in the US – which took one of humanity’s bloodiest wars – systemic racism is still harming people here and across the globe. The last Confederate war flag flew only 156 years ago. Studying our country’s history of slavery and freedom is an important part of celebrating acts of resistance against injustice and overcoming the racism that still exists today. Below is an interactive historical timeline charting the beginning and end of slavery in the United States, as well as a list of Juneteenth history resources.

The History of Juneteenth: A Timeline

(Note: This timeline explores the harmful stereotypes inflicted on African Americans. Much of the language and imagery used in primary sources is offensive and unacceptable. Historical language and images have been represented in their original form in order to accurately convey past ideologies and reveal past experiences. Whenever possible, appropriate terminology is used in the description of these materials.)

Juneteenth History Resources

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