Thursday, June 7, 2012
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. One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with: 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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer. Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. The story often was the 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. A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of continue a tradition today. Rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball are a few of the typical Juneteenth activities. Certain foods became popular and Synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as Strawberry soda pop.Today the most popular traditional is barbecuing. On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official Texas states holiday.
What a year we are moving right along can you believe we are half way through the year. June doesn’t have a major holiday but my family celebrates June 19 with a big Juneteenth picnic. This month I will share some of my family favorite Juneteenth recipes. I would love to share the story of Juneteenth with you, it one of those story every African American should know.