A Look into Our History

155 years later: Black America's forgotten story of liberation

“Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of 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 Lincoln’s 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 Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance." [1]

Why did it take two and a half years for the news to reach Texas?

“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 of which, or neither of these version could be true.” [1]

How has it typically been celebrated?

Juneteenth celebrations range from backyard picnics to more formal events like parades and festival gatherings.

“ON JUNE 19, BLACK AMERICANS gather across the United States to feast, as they have done every year since the nation’s slaves were freed. These celebrations at public parks have historically included parades, the reading of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and the main event—the food. Prior to the celebrations in 1933, the Dallas Morning News reported that “watermelon, barbecue and red lemonade will be consumed in quantity.” Indeed, laid across their plates were charcoal-grilled meats, greens, black-eyed peas, and teacakes, but also an assortment of foods and drinks with red hues.” [2]

Is it a federal holiday?

No — or at least not yet. So far 47 states and D.C. have declared it a state holiday. Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota we’re looking at you to make change this year. [3]

How should it be celebrated in 2020 and beyond?

State & local government — formally recognize the history and culture of this holiday. This holiday should be written into law without expiration.
Companies & local businesses — incorporate this into their corporate calendars and acknowledge this as a corporate holiday, even ahead of a federal law coming into place.
In general — this an opportunity to pledge support of black businesses and create an extension of buy black nationally around this holiday. It is a time to donate to community organizations who have black board members working to create advancement for multi-generational Black Americans. 

Join the Movement

Now more than ever, we must recognize Juneteenth as a time to collectively reflect on our past, take action in our present, and build towards our future. #hellajuneteenth

Your private information will not be sold or used for purposes outside of informing you on Hella Creative projects.

Back to top Arrow