Tragedies sometimes end quietly or without national fanfare, like on June 19, 1865, when Union forces arrived by ship in Galveston Bay to finally enforce the end of slavery, thereby officially terminating the immoral practice all across the United States.
Major General Gordon Granger, who had served courageously during the Civil War, was given command of Texas. Arriving in the port city, he read and delivered what was known as General Order Number 3:
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.
Keep in mind, Texas slaves, who numbered over 250,000, were unaware the war had even ended two months earlier. Nearly 3,750,000 other slaves had been emancipated after the South surrendered to the North.
Understandably, the announcement in Galveston was met with great emotion and celebration as word spread across the state. At first, the day was almost exclusively celebrated by black Americans. Known as “Juneteenth” – a colloquial term – it was also called “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”
Juneteenth became a national holiday in 2021.
Given the recent proliferation of holidays and other dates on the calendar marking all kinds of agenda-driven ideologies, some have wrongly suspected the date falls into that category.
It’s important that all Americans know the full history and arc concerning the rise and fall of slavery in the United States.
Juneteenth is a reminder that political and social victory over evil is possible. Policies that demean and destroy can be beaten back. It may take time. It will take effort. But the time and the effort will pay off if we don’t give in or give up.
As we commemorate and celebrate the anniversary of slavery’s end and the triumph it was and is for all of America, it’s interesting to note the anniversary falls on the very week of the Dobbs’ ruling – the historic 20222 Supreme Court decision that reversed Roe and sent the issue of abortion back to the states.
That’s because it’s hard not to consider how many black babies are enslaved and sentenced to death even today.
According to the best available research, over 20 million black babies have been aborted since 1973 – that’s five times as many people as were caught in slavery’s grip at the end of the Civil War.
If you celebrate Juneteenth, you should also be advocating for the liberation and emancipation of all innocent children currently at risk of abortion. Let’s hope the rise of one holiday championing the demise of one evil will eventually lead to the triumph and federalization of a day marking the end of another.
Photo from Shutterstock.