Juneteenth! What a marvelous word! I almost let the day get by without realizing that today is the day. I first heard the word when I was a boy visiting my grandparents who lived in rural northeast Texas. It was a holiday by Black folks for Black folks, but they were willing to share the barbecue, which was superb. This was not an official holiday, this was a folk holiday. And it is the only non-religious holiday except the Fourth of July and New Year’s Day that is still celebrated on the original date.
Juneteenth—doesn’t it just sound like a word the freed slaves would have applied to the day their freedom was made official and permanent? Jubilation! On June 19th, 1865 the following proclamation was issued in Galveston by Union Major General Gordon Granger:
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.
It’s time to make Juneteenth a national holiday.