Did you know?

by chuckofish

Did you know that today–June 19–is Juneteenth?

What is Juneteenth, you say? Juneteenth is an annual observance to celebrate the date Union soldiers enforced the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all remaining slaves in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865.  Texas was the last state in rebellion, following the end of the Civil War, to allow slavery.

general-order-number-3

Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation was not announced in Texas until General Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas and issued General Order No. 3, on the 19th of June,  almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Freedmen's Memorial Monument to Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C.  Frederick Douglass was the keynote speaker at the dedication service on April 14, 1876, with President Ulysses S. Grant in attendance.

The Freedmen’s Memorial Monument to Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C.
Frederick Douglass was the keynote speaker at the dedication service on April 14, 1876, with President Ulysses S. Grant in attendance.

Although Juneteenth has been informally celebrated each year since 1865, it wasn’t until June 3, 1979, that Texas became the first state to proclaim Emancipation Day (Juneteenth) an official state holiday. “Juneteenth has become a day for African Americans to celebrate their freedom, culture, and achievements…It is a day for all Americans to celebrate African American history and rejoice in their freedom.” (The Library of Congress)

As of June 2012, 42 U.S. states (including my flyover state) and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or special day of observance.

I say, sounds to me like a good reason to have a party.

At the very least, I think I’ll watch a movie with the awesome Woody Strode* in it.

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This might be the beginning of a beautiful new tradition.

professionals

The Professionals (1966) on Juneteenth. You know how I feel about this movie.

In case you didn’t know, Woodrow “Woody” Strode attended UCLA where he was a world-class decathelete and played football. He served in the US Army during World War II. Strode was also one of the first four black players to integrate professional football in 1946 when he played for the Cleveland Rams. Later he he played a Buffalo soldier in the 1960 John Ford movie Sergeant Rutledge. He appeared in over 80 domestic and foreign films in a career that spanned nearly 55 years, including Spartacus and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.