By: Chestiny Fair, Faculty Member and Coordinator for Bryan U’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Awareness Committee (IDEA Committee).
Each year on June 19th, Juneteenth is observed marking the end of slavery in the United States. Let us take a moment to observe and learn the history surrounding the day.
Juneteenth is made up of the words ‘June’ and ‘nineteenth’ because it represents the day Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Texas over 155 years ago to inform that the Civil War had ended and the act of slavery had been abolished.
The Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincon in 1863, declaring ‘all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free’ had not yet reached Texas until 1865, when Major Granger arrived. This news was a shock to over 250,000 enslaved African Americans in Texas that were unaware of it.
There are various reasons why the news reached Texas so late, but ultimately the news accounted for massive celebrations throughout and set June 19, 1865, as the official date that all enslaved workers were set free.
In 1980, Texas became the first State to declare Juneteenth as a state holiday, with many others following behind. It wasn’t until 2021 that Juneteenth became a National Holiday.
Juneteenth is a day that combines prayer, family, and fun. Many celebrate the day with backyard barbeques, small local celebrations, and large parades through metropolitan areas.
We encourage all to take a moment today to express gratitude for and reflect on African American freedom, contributions, and achievements of the African American communities.