Commentary

Juneteenth

Observance has spread far past Texas into many other states

A uniquely Texas observance has spread beyond the boundaries of the Lone Star State and shows no signs of slowing down.

Juneteenth will be celebrated at many places in Texas during this weekend, including Rockdale’s Sumuel Park.

There will also be a parade from downtown to the park. See story about Rockdale’s Juneteenth activities on page 1A.

The long-standing holiday has been growing from its Texas roots. In fact, two of the largest Juneteenth observances are now held in Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

Exactly what is Juneteenth?

At the end of the Civil War, news moved slowly throughout the Union and even more slowly throughout the former Confederacy.

One Confederate army didn’t surrender until June 2, 1865.

On June 18, 1865, Union Major Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with 2,000 troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the federal government. The next day he stepped to the balcony of Ashton Villa and read a proclamation declaring the end of slavery in the United States.

In the ensuing years, the date of June 19 became enshrined as one of celebration and for the next half-century many made an annual pilgrimage to Galveston to be part of the re-enactment of the first Juneteenth.

Through the latter part of the 19th Century many Texas towns, not all of them major cities, began to host massive Juneteenth observances.

In 1980, Texas became the first state to proclaim Juneteenth as an official holiday. In the past three decades Juneteenth observances have turned up in places like the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

All appropriate places and times to celebrate freedom.

But then, so are all times and places.—M.B.


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2017-06-15 digital edition

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