The first African slave in Texas arrived in 1528 with a shipwrecked party of Spanish Conquistadors, but it took until June 19, 1865 to end slavery in Texas and the United States. The anniversary of that day is celebrated as a holiday, Juneteenth.
On American Independence Day in 1852, abolitionist Frederick Douglass was invited to speak to an audience of celebrants in Rochester, New York. Instead of customarily celebrating the occasion, he disparaged the Fourth of July for representing “the gross injustice and cruelty” to which the American slave was submitted. His point was that American Independence Day was an exclusive celebration that exalted the national glory of white Americans. Blacks, in particular, were not included in the liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution by design of that very law, and Douglass made it clear that they felt left out of the party. But through the ceaseless efforts of abolitionists, a painful civil war, and the legislative and legal processes, African Americans would inevitably come to realize freedom.
Juneteenth pronounced the end of slavery in this land, and it has also taken on a note of distinction as a high moment for all people who celebrate freedom. Since U.S. General Gordon Granger’s June 19, 1865 arrival in Galveston to deliver General Order No. 3 freeing the slaves, Texans of all colors and generations have commemorated the day. The spirit of Juneteenth has even crossed state lines: another 40 states list Juneteenth as an official holiday or observance. People in every state around the country take the time to remember this date and celebrate!
Juneteenth is one of the best-regarded African American calendar events in this country, ranking next to Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. Juneteenth Jamboree explores Juneteenth and what it represents: its real history and the meaning of emancipation and an abundance of entertainment.
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