Happy Juneteenth Day: African American 'Holiday' May Finally Receive Some National Recognition

By White, Paula M. | Black Enterprise, June 1996 | Go to article overview

Happy Juneteenth Day: African American 'Holiday' May Finally Receive Some National Recognition


White, Paula M., Black Enterprise


African American `holiday' may finally receive some national recognition

So when is Independence Day? Well if you're African American and think it's on the 4th of July, not so fast.

It was reportedly on June 19, 1865, that Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, with the announcement that all slaves were to be freed, marking the actual end of slavery in this country. Unfortunately, this was two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Myths abound about why it took so long for word to reach the Western settlements. But whatever the reason, when the last of the slaves finally got word they were free, it was obviously a day of celebration, one that went on to be recognized as Juneteenth Day.

But as the years passed and blacks began migrating to other areas of the country, many former slaves and their immediate descendants stopped celebrating. As a consequence, the national significance behind Juneteenth Day has gradually faded from view, says Lula Briggs Galloway, president and founder of the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage, a recently established organization that provides information relating to African American history.

"It's only been two generations since blacks began leaving the South, but our biggest obstacle in getting recognition for this holiday is educating our people," says Galloway. …

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