Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is an American holiday honoring African American heritage. It commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. State of Texas in 1865. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday in 36 states of the United States.

The holiday originated in Galveston, Texas; for more than a century, the state of Texas was the primary home of Juneteenth celebrations and since 1980, Juneteenth has been an official state holiday in Texas. It is considered a “partial staffing holiday”, meaning that state offices do not close, but some employees will be using a floating holiday to take the day off. Its informal observance has spread to some other states, with a few celebrations even taking place in other countries.

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, with an effective date of January 1, 1863. It had minimal immediate effect on most slaves’ day-to-day lives, particularly in Texas, which was almost entirely under Confederate control. Texas was resistant to the Emancipation Proclamation, and though slavery was very prevalent in East Texas, it was not as common in the Western areas of Texas, particularly the Hill Country, where most German-Americans were opposed to the practice. Juneteenth commemorates June 18 and 19, 1865. June 18 is the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. On June 19, 1865, legend has it while standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of “General Order No. 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. 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.

This event became known as Juneteenth.  This weekend, the city of Rockford will celebrate this holiday with events beginning on Friday and continuing into Saturday.

A Juneteenth kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Friday at The Sullivan Center, 118 N. Main St., Rockford. The free event for which no registration is needed features the Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago. Speakers and poets include Tommy Meeks, Rep. Chuck Jefferson, Spoken Word, Henry McDavid, Debra Jo Howard and Coleen Williams.

The following day, June 19th, there will be a huge musical celebration at the Sinnissippi Music Shell, featuring various artists and live performances.

For more information: www.rockfordjuneteenth.com

-Darold Ingram


~ by daroldingram on June 16, 2010.

2 Responses to “Juneteenth”

  1. How interesting!! I never knew what Juneteenth was! Thanks for filling us in!!


  2. Hey I’ve been reading your blog and wanted to let you know that we’ve created a juneteenth twitter overlay to create awareness about the day. You can check it out here http://www.celebratejuneteenth.com . We’re doing this in conjunction with the movie http://www.mckinleynolan.com executive produced by Danny Glover. Thought you might be interested in passing on to your readers. Let me know what you think! Thanks! Isis http://www.mckinleynolan.com

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