Juneteenth and the Texas memorial to Black history

Juneteenth and the Texas memorial to Black history

Right-wing efforts to erase Black History continue, even though Juneteenth became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021. As such, I’m republishing this story I wrote on Juneteenth history in 2017, featuring the work of Black American sculptor, author, and former Air Force test pilot Ed Dwight. 


On  June 19, 1865, news finally arrived in Galveston, Texas: Enslaved people in the rebel Confederate States had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Sept. 22, 1862. In many Black communities across the nation, this event is celebrated and known as Juneteenth.

From the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation:

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating 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.

For more on how news of the Emancipation Proclamation spread, read my 2014 story, “The road to Juneteenth.”

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