Skip to main content

Juneteenth 2020: Home

Celebrate Juneteenth!

Juneteenth Slideshow

About Juneteenth
The Emancipation Proclamation drew its legal authority from the emergency of the Civil War; it applied to those states still at war with the federal government.  President Abraham Lincoln did not want to threaten federal control of slave territory held by federal troops, who occupied Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware.  West Virginia had seceded from Virginia early in the war; it too was occupied by federal troops, as was the area around New Orleans and Washington D.C.
The complete and constitutional abolition of slavery required the 13th Amendment to be added to the Constitution. The Emancipation Proclamation marked the effective end of slavery in the United States. 
Juneteenth, also known as “Freedom Day” or Emancipation Day commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas.
Celebrated on June 19, Juneteenth, is the name given to Emancipation Day by African-Americans in Texas. The Emancipation Proclamation was scheduled to become effective on January 1, 1863 but slavery continued after that date in many states. It was wasn’t until two years later in 1865, Union Major-General Gordon Granger read General Order No.3 to the people of Galveston, 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 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.”
Large celebrations on June 19 began in 1866 and continued regularly into the early 20th century. During the 1960s, celebrations declined due to integration efforts of the Civil Rights Movement, but Juneteenth began to receive greater recognition again in the 1970s. Celebrations often include events and activities such as prayer services, games, picnics, barbecues, beauty pageants, talent contests, and sporting events. More generally, Juneteenth is a day to celebrate black pride and black achievements.
In the Texas state capital, Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1867 under the direction of the Freedmen's Bureau and became part of the calendar of public events by 1872. Juneteenth in Limestone County has gathered
The day has been celebrated through formal thanksgiving ceremonies at which the hymn
Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors - the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations. Food was abundant because everyone prepared a special dish. Meats such as lamb, pork and beef, which were not available everyday, were brought on this special occasion. A true Juneteenth celebration left visitors well satisfied and with enough conversation to last until the next.
Emancipation Day is also observed in many former European colonies in the Caribbean, Canada and South Africa.
United States congressional Representative Sheila Jackson Lee campaigns for Juneteenth to be a national holiday.
Juneteenth flag designer L.J. Graf packed lots of meaning into her design. The colors red, white, and blue echo the American flag to symbolize that the slaves and their descendants were Americans. The star in the middle pays homage to Texas, while the bursting

Overview of Juneteenth

Juneteenth

Juneteenth is a hybrid of the words June and nineteenth. It was first recognized on June 19, 1865. In the weeks following General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, General Gordon Granger and a regiment of Union army soldiers sailed into Galveston, Texas, and issued a freedom proclamation for nearly two hundred thousand slaves. This was the catalyst for a number of celebrations in the state and throughout the southwestern United States. Currently a Texas state holiday, Juneteenth is commemorated all over the country with parades, concerts, and cultural festivities.

Lincoln Proclaims Emancipation

President Abraham Lincoln signed the first Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. It was a preliminary document, announcing that emancipation would become effective on January 1, 1863. Enforcement, however, was stalled until the end of the Civil War in April 1865 and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on December 18, 1865. Texans were not notified of these developments and did not learn of their freedom until June 19 of that year. It is generally accepted that plantation owners purposely delayed the news announcing the end of slavery in order to orchestrate one final harvest and planting of the cotton crops.

Houston Waives Segregation for Juneteenth

The initial gatherings were held in rural locations that were not subject to the laws of segregation. Later, as the freedom celebrations became more popular Houston waived its segregation rules for the event. This led to the purchase of 10 acres of land near Houston in 1872. In 1878 a community group was chartered, and they purchased the land that became Booker T. Washington Park in Mexia, near Waco. It soon became the home of the earliest Juneteenth celebrations. The traditions established at this time included a reprieve from work, the donning of elaborate costumes to symbolize freedom from the rags of slavery, barbecuing, and enjoying an elaborate picnic. Contemporary celebrations include prayer services, African art sales, and a variety of musical concerts.

Juneteenth Becomes a Texas State Holiday

Integration, the Great Depression, and World War II contributed to the decline of Juneteenth emancipation gatherings. In 1979 Houston Representative Al Edwards proposed legislation to make June 19 an official Texas state holiday. The bill became law on January 1, 1980. The renaissance of African American cultural pride and ethnic identification prevalent in the country over the last twenty-five years has helped to resurrect Juneteenth. It is now visible in a variety of places in the United States.

From CREDO: Slavery in the United States: A Social, Political, and Historical Encyclopedia

Juneteenth Galveston, Texas, June 19th, 1865 

Juneteenth started in Galveston, 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 free laborer." 

From --Major General Gordon Granger, Galveston, June 19th, 1865

In the Library

portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the cover of the book Act of Justic

Act of Justice

In his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln declared that as president he would "have no lawful right" to interfere with the institution of slavery. Yet less than two years later, he issued a proclamation intended to free all slaves throughout the Confederate states. When critics challenged the constitutional soundness of the act, Lincoln pointed to the international laws and usages of war as the legal basis for his Proclamation, asserting that the Constitution invested the president "with the law of war in time of war." As the Civil War intensified, the Lincoln administration slowly and reluctantly accorded full belligerent rights to the Confederacy under the law of war. 

African Americans working in a field, cover image for the book After Slavery

After Slavery

Moves beyond broad generalizations concerning black life during Reconstruction in order to address the varied experiences of freed slaves across the South. This collection examines urban unrest in New Orleans and Wilmington, North Carolina, loyalty among former slave owners and slaves in Mississippi, armed insurrection along the Georgia coast, racial violence throughout the region, and much more in order to provide a well-rounded portrait of the era.

collage of images representative of the Abolitionist Movement; book cover image for the encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World

The struggle to abolish slavery is one of the grandest quests - and central themes - of modern history. These movements for freedom have taken many forms, from individual escapes, violent rebellions, and official proclamations to mass organizations, decisive social actions, and major wars. Every emancipation movement - whether in Europe, Africa, or the Americas - has profoundly transformed the country and society in which it existed. This unique A-Z encyclopedia examines every effort to end slavery in the United States and the transatlantic world.

book cover image for Juneteenth Texas

Juneteenth Texas

Juneteenth Texas explores African-American folkways and traditions from both African-American and white perspectives. Included are descriptions and classifications of different aspects of African-American folk culture in Texas; explorations of songs and stories and specific performers such as Lightnin' Hopkins, Manse Lipscomb, and Bongo Joe; and a section giving resources for the further study of African Americans in Texas.  

Emancipation Memorial (Freedman's Memorial) statue pictured on cover of the book, Lincoln's Proclamation

Lincoln's Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation, widely remembered as the heroic act that ended slavery, in fact freed slaves only in states in the rebellious South. True emancipation was accomplished over a longer period and by several means. Essays by eight distinguished contributors consider aspects of the president's decision making, as well as events beyond Washington, offering new insights on the consequences and legacies of freedom, the engagement of black Americans in their liberation, and the issues of citizenship and rights that were not decided by Lincoln's document. The essays portray emancipation as a product of many hands, best understood by considering all the actors, the place, and the time.

book cover image for Voices of Emancipation

Voices of Emancipation

Voices of Emancipation seeks to recover the lives and words of former slaves in vivid detail, mining the case files of the U.S. Pension Bureau, which administered a huge pension system for Union veterans and their survivors in the decades following the Civil War. The files contain an invaluable, first-hand perspective of slavery, emancipation, black military service, and freedom. Moreover, as Pension Bureau examiners began interviewing black Union veterans and their families shortly after the Civil War, the files are arguably among the earliest sources of ex-slaves reflecting on their lives, occurring decades before better-known WPA Slave Narratives of the 1930s took place. 

Web Resources

TCC Juneteenth 2020 Digital Collection

TCC Libraries Digital Display Archive

The Tarrant County College District Libraries are pleased to provide a wide assortment of digital displays and online exhibits, designed to educate, inform, entertain, and engage our entire community, and to help support the learning experience, outside of the traditional classroom environment.  To view more of these web-based displays, visit our Digital Archive page by clicking  HERE.