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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Happy Juneteenth!

posted by on June 19 at 17:22 PM

Don’t know what Juneteenth is? provides a little background:

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincolnís Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Grangerís regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All or none of them could be true. For whatever the reason, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

Texas was the last state to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, but it was the first to make Juneteenth an official holiday, on January 1, 1980.

I couldn’t find any info about Seattle-area celebrations on the Juneteenth web site, but if you know of any, leave ‘em in the comments.

RSS icon Comments


what a coincidence. there's a juneteenth celebration going on in my pants right now! you're all invited, of course.

Posted by mirrorman | June 19, 2007 5:40 PM

Seattle Juneteenth celebrations were this past weekend.

Posted by Blaire | June 19, 2007 5:48 PM

I'm not much into politics and slavery. They are important subjects to many and I respect that. What I enjoy is writing, even if its [sick] not always grammatically correct.

This past Saturday was Bloomsday, the day people celebrate June 16th, James Joyce's "Ulysses." There had to be gatherings for readings in the city. I was hiking, dang it.

Did anyone attend, and naturally,
How Was It?
Although I'm not a fan of Wikipedia, check out the references. Very many admirable artists have acknowledged the book.

Posted by writer | June 19, 2007 5:55 PM

Um, emancipation wasn't enforced anywhere in the Confederacy until surrender, except liberated areas. How could it have been? Do you think Jefferson Davis's slaves walked off the plantation on January 1, 1863? I'll bet they didn't.

Texas was last because they were furthest away. Damn fools didn't know how to use the internet then.

Posted by Fnarf | June 19, 2007 6:09 PM

Slavery may be boring to you. Probably all history is then.

Slavery meant that not only were African Amercians enslaved by enslavers, but when we settled the West they couldn't join in the land rush.

Result today: lots of whitey white farmer states in the states will all black population.

Except DC and as we know they don't get a vote, well, because they just don't.

The un-enslaved persons also could not participate in those great land grant colleges that Lincoln spurred. You know: Cornell; colleges in Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota and the others.

The freed persons could not equally benefit from opportunities to serve in the armed forces or the GI bill due to enforced discrimination which lasted in law right through the 1970s.

Througout all of this enslaved persons always rebelled -- few of us are taught about the multiple, vigorous slave revolts in the 1800s -- they fought back; they constantly struggled for freedom.

Just like I did when fighting the British.

I get a Holiday because I was Prez, too.

Veterans get a holiday for helping our cause of freedom.

We should celebrate Juneteenth to remember: the end of slavery helped make all of us free. To remember: it doesn't come automatically. To remember: we have to keep struggling for it, even today.

yr. obt. svt.,

Posted by G. Washington | June 19, 2007 6:28 PM

The end of Slavery should be celebrated, and so should the end of Jim Crow.

Posted by Jay | June 19, 2007 6:32 PM

The celebrations were at Pratt park at 20th and Yesler as they were last year.

This holiday definitly deserves way more attention. We would do well to replace Thanksgiving with Juneteenth since it actually matters.

Posted by Things Taken | June 19, 2007 6:35 PM

G. Washington,

History is not boring to me, and I appreciate your analysis. You've stated the case much better than I could have. I agree with you on 99% of your claims.

I just think a lot of history is made up or skewed, and especially so in a political way. As I implied, Wikipedia is not my preferred reference. There are many factual errors, and based on their writing, there are definitely political biases. It is unfortunate that it used so often in place of the standard encyclopedias, which albeit can be dated, have far less errors and are persistent in maintaining neutrality.

Posted by writer | June 19, 2007 7:14 PM

I should note that even though support celebrating the end of slavery and Jim Crow, I wouldn't want something like Thanksgiving done away with. Despite its latent Christian overtones it is a very meaningful occasion for a lot of people who are not necessarily Christian, especially immigrant families. It's a uniquely American holiday, and besides any excuse for a feast can only be a good thing.

Posted by Jay | June 19, 2007 7:22 PM

Good job Fnarf on setting the reccord straight. The emancipation proclomation freed very few slaves, especially since it did not apply to the slave holding states that remained with the Union. So it really isn't a remarkable story at all.

Posted by longball | June 19, 2007 8:34 PM

No, longball, it is remarkable, because it does mark the last state. It's just that the delay isn't as sinister as the original post made out.

Posted by Fnarf | June 19, 2007 9:51 PM

The Seattle area celebrated its first Juneteenth in Kent, back in 1890.

Posted by Roodnik | June 19, 2007 10:13 PM

As noted, the emancipation proclamation did not free any slaves in the Confederacy since, for some odd reason, they didn't seem to recognize Lincoln's authority at the time. It didn't even manage to free the slaves in the so called border states that remained loyal, such as Delaware, Maryland and Kentucky.

Posted by Roger Williams | June 20, 2007 1:56 AM

Thanks for liking History! One day, it will help folks argue that we shouldn't get rid of the name Washington for States and things just because I owned enslaved persons!

Weird, wasn't it, and pretty much everyone was in on it for a long, long time. Today y'all make Mr. Yuck faces thinking about it, assuming wow, I wouldn't have supprted it were I alive back then. Un hunh.

Guess we can all be very good or very evil, all of us, everyone.

And here's another thing about History -- think of Future History. Yes, just as today, we look back, and scratch our heads wondering "How Could They?" (enslavement, serfdom, oppression of chicks, etc.), why, in the Future, what will they look back to in Our Era and say "How Could They?"

Global Warming, I'd bet.

No national health care.

Campaign corruption donations and giving nonpersons (corporations) the right to make them! IA weird coequivalence on some level: we folks form the 1600s to 1800s took away rights of persons (enslaved persons) to be Legal Persons, yet y'all today is give rights to nonpersons (corporations) to be Legal Persons and make campaign corruption donations.
Oh well, there's always a power elite.
Meanwhile 1/4 of African Amercian males in a city are often without voting rights due to your harsh Drug Laws.

Plus ca change....

yr obt. svt.,

Posted by G. Washington | June 20, 2007 6:36 AM
Posted by celebrator | June 20, 2007 3:28 PM

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