In the coming week, we will be celebrating a holiday that means a lot to me and perhaps is my favorite holiday of all. It is uniquely American and still not all states recognize it and most Americans know little or nothing about it.
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation
on September 22nd, 1862. It took effect on January !st, 1863. I don't recall there was much recognition of the 150th Anniversary last New Year's. Maybe there was and I just didn't see it. But more widely celebrated in African-American communities is an anniversary coming up in the next week. Juneteenth is always June 19th but this year, the celebration will begin on the weekend before since the 19th falls on a Wednesday this year.
In theory, slaves were emancipated on 1/1/1863 but in practice it was anything but the case. The Confederate states did not recognize it and it took time for word to spread to the very people it was meant to free. A decree is just a piece of paper unless you have the means to enforce it.
Juneteenth is recognition of the day when 2000 Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take over the state and enforce the decree. They arrived on the 18th of June in 1865 and on the 19th General Gordon Granger stood on the balcony of Ashton Villa and read General Order No. 3
. In theory, the slaves had been free for and year and a half. But you have to remember what General Jackson said about Justice Marshall's decision about Cherokee lands in Georgia. A Supreme Court decision is worthless unless it can be enforced. So are executive orders.
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.
One of my earliest memories of childhood is that of sitting in the family car with my mother while my father was visiting relatives in a very small town in Barbour County, Alabama. The town square was full of African-Americans, poor farmers and their families, all dressed in their Sunday best and all were singing and dancing, eating and drinking like nothing I had ever seen. Joy was in the air and it was contagious.
I asked my mother, "Why is everybody so happy, Mama?'
She didn't hesitate and forcefully answered in a way a small child could understand, "Because they are free!
That is my first memory of Juneteenth and pure joy that comes with knowing you are free.
I can still hear my mother's words ringing in my ears along with the profound emotion and meaning that was attached to that one word.
It is a much abused word.
Here are some links to the history and to the events that are scheduled and I hope that everyone will take a moment or two to reflect on what the significance of this day in our history and what it means to be free.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneteenthhttp://www.galveston.com/juneteenth/http://www.sfjuneteenth.org/http://www.juneteenthminnesota.org/http://www.juneteenthcentraltexas.com/E ... endar.htmlhttp://nationaljuneteenth.com/Calendar.html
Research shows that 61.91944 per cent of all statistics are made up.
For other Mark Twain quotes and attributions, true and false:
http://www.twainquotes.com/Lies.html No evidence of "A lie will travel...."