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The Significance of Juneteenth

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The Significance of Juneteenth

Junious Ricardo Stanton

 

“Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.” What is Juneteenth? Elizabeth Nix https://www.history.com/news/what-is-juneteenth

 

As we pause to celebrate Juneteenth which many maintain is the longest continuously running indigenous African-American celebration, we need to be clear on what it is and why we are celebrating it! We have been lied to about our history in this nation, Africa and the world. We need to know the truth and see it from our point of view as our adversaries step up their attempts to suppress this truth.

Juneteenth is an honest day of celebration for us. Contrary to what we have been told and taught Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation actually freed no enslaved people! It was a disingenuous PR stunt by President Abraham Lincoln who was an avowed white supremacist at a time when the War Between the States wasn’t going well for the North. Lincoln was in a desperate situation: ten states had succeeded from the Union, they set up their own government taking the cotton economy and wealth with them and the war was unpopular with many Northern whites who were resisting conscription (being drafted) into the Union Army. Lincoln was faced with a war effort that was not going well and the eminent possibility of Britain and France entering the war on the side of the Confederacy which would have greatly exacerbated his woes.

On January 1,1863 Lincoln issued an Executive Order called the Emancipation Proclamation that was directed at the enslaved people in the ten Confederate States that had formed a separate sovereign nation by establishing its own government with laws, money and an economy founded on the free labor of our enslaved ancestors. Lincoln however, viewed the Confederacy as an area of rebellion which was the basis for his Executive Order; but in fact Lincoln had no authority to pronounce laws on the Confederacy since it was a autonomous entity.

“As Lincoln’s decree applied only to territory outside the realm of his control, the Emancipation Proclamation had little actual effect on freeing any of the nation’s enslaved people. But its symbolic power was enormous, as it announced freedom for enslaved people as one of the North’s war aims, alongside preserving the Union itself. It also had practical effects: Nations like Britain and France, which had previously considered supporting the Confederacy to expand their power and influence, backed off due to their steadfast opposition to slavery. Black Americans were permitted to serve in the Union Army for the first time, and nearly 200,000 would do so by the end of the war.” https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/emancipation-proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation did signal hope for our enslaved ancestors and they abandoned the plantation and fields and flocked to Union Army camps once the Union penetrated into the Confederacy. The executive order did pave the way for Blacks to serve in the Union Army and Navy which greatly helped the Union war effort and Lincoln tied the war to the issue of slavery. However Lincoln’s order did not apply to or free our ancestors who were languishing in brutal bondage in the Union Border States of Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri or Union controlled Confederate territory!

Lincoln’s determination to aggressively fight the war by continually changing generals plus the infusion of over 200,000 Black soldiers, sailors and support personnel into the Union forces essentially turned the tide of the war! The Confederacy was unable to sustain the early momentum and psychological advantages it had gained and their failure to secure direct foreign military support doomed their efforts. Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses Grant near Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865.

There was sporadic fighting after Lee surrendered in April. The final recorded battle took place on Palmito Ranch in Texas on May 12-13, 1865. When additional Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay Texas on June Nineteenth 1865 to take control of the state they announced the war was over and slavery was ended. Our enslaved ancestors rejoiced and marked that date as the official end of slavery for them.

For a long time Juneteenth was only celebrated in Galveston Texas, they called it Emancipation Day. Today we celebrate this date as a national holiday. More and more African-Americans are becoming aware of the significance of Juneteenth and making it a meaningful holiday for us as opposed to say the Fourth of July.

What are some important take aways we can glean from Juneteenth? First within the overall context of the War Between the States we know people of African descent aggressively pushed for and were finally granted an opportunity to fight for their/our freedom. Lincoln’s Executive Order aka The Emancipation Proclamation allowed Blacks to serve in the military and we did. Over 200,000 Black soldiers, seaman and support personnel were essential in the North’s victory!

We shortened June Nineteenth to Juneteenth which is so like us, so cultural and so Black! Most importantly Juneteenth is an opportunity for us to celebrate something that directly impacted/affected us as opposed to celebrating other people’s cultural and religious holidays. This year Juneteenth falls on June 19th, so celebrate enjoy it and be grateful.

 

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