Juneteenth – America’s Newest Holiday – by MRFF Bd. Member John Compere: June 19, 1865 enslaved African-Americans in Texas were informed of 1862’s Emancipation Proclamation

Published On: June 19, 2024|Categories: News|6 Comments|
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“JUNETEENTH” is our new federal holiday originating in Texas and celebrated on June 19th. It is a colloquial combination of “June” and “nineteenth” and the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.

It officially recognizes June 19, 1865 – the date enslaved African-Americans in Texas were first informed of the implementation of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation and their liberation from slavery. The 13th Amendment abolishing slavery followed on December 6, 1865. An estimated 250,000 enslaved people lived in Texas in 1865.

Commemorating the end of slavery in Texas, June 19th was originally observed by Texas, then the US Congress, 48 other states and the District of Columbia. The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act making June 19th our11th annual federal holiday was passed by the Senate unanimously, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly and signed into law by the President in 2021. The holiday is intended to bring people together as well as raise awareness about this important day in black history. All 50 states and the District of Columbia now recognize it as either a holiday or day of special observance.

The Civil War ended with the rebel surrender on April 9, 1865 at Virginia’s Appomattox Court House village. The last battle was fought May 12-13, 1865 in Texas on the banks of the Rio Grande at Palmetto Ranch east of Brownsville followed by the surrender of all rebel forces in Texas. Texas was on the western edge of the southern slave states, geographically remote, not a major battleground state and the last to recognize the lawful cessation of slavery.

Texas remoteness also prevented the “Underground Railroad” from being a reality. This coordinated abolitionist network hid escaped slaves in Southern states and arranged their travel to Northern states for freedom. Enslaved people in Texas had to find their own ways of liberation by escaping on foot, horseback or by wagon overland to Mexico where slavery was outlawed, to the Gulf of Mexico for boat passage to the Caribbean, or farther west across hostile and lawless territory. They seldom succeeded.

Union Army General Gordon Granger with 2,000 federal troops arrived at Galveston Island on June 18, 1865 to begin occupation of Texas. The next morning General Granger announced the total emancipation of slaves in Texas by reading and posting a military general order at his headquarters at Strand and 22nd Streets that stated in part “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free”.A State of Texas historical marker commemorating “Juneteenth” was erected at the site by the Galveston Historical Foundation and Texas Historical Commission.

American history tells us one of the first Texas explorers was an African man named Estebanico (1500-1539). He arrived in Galveston with Spanish explorer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and Spanish conquistadors in 1528. They traveled throughout present day Texas and northern Mexico until 1534.

Texas history records the first Texas Revolution casualty to be Samuel McCullough, Jr. (1810-1893), an African-American freed slave and volunteer Texas soldier. He was wounded by a Mexican musket ball at the Battle of Goliad, survived and continued fighting for Texas independence. When McCullough completed his military service, he was awarded a Texas disabled veteran land grant near Von Ormy where he lived with his family and farmed for the rest of his life.

Following the Civil War, 52 African-American men were elected and served as Texas legislators during Reconstruction. They included lawyers, farmers, builders, merchants, teachers and preachers. All were Republicans, the party of Lincoln (Democrats were secessionists with the defeated Confederacy). The 15th Amendment to the Constitution gave men of all races the right to vote in 1870 (women were not allowed to vote until the 20th Century). The last of these historic Black leaders left office in 1897. They were overlooked when Texas history was written but are now resurfacing because of increasing interest in Black history.

The traditional beverage of Juneteenth is the “red drink”, a highly sweetened, ruby-colored drink with a berry-citrus flavor, originating in West Africa. The color red symbolizes the blood and sacrifice of an enslaved people from the past.

For a sweeping history of Juneteenth and its importance in American history, the New York Times best seller “On Juneteenth” (Liveright/W.W. Norton & Company, 2021) by Pulitzer Prize winning historian, author and law professor Annette Gordon-Reed is recommended.

Juneteenth was first celebrated in Texas in 1866. Freed men, women and children gathered in rural communities and freedom colonies to rejoice with parades, dances, hallelujahs, feasts, music, singing, grateful prayers and tears of relief. Regrettably, residual and regressive racism remains.

John Compere
Brigadier General, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Texas rancher

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  1. Ironmoped June 27, 2024 at 9:21 am

    Great history lesson. Thanks for sharing.

    I’m of the opinion that the United States wasn’t founded on freedom, it was founded on slavery, our so-called “Founding Fathers” being slave owners themselves.

    “All men are created equal with inalienable rights…..” Yeah, okie, dokie.

    Former slaves were incarcerated to get around their new-found freedoms. Back to working just like you were before!

    Black and Hispanic children are far more likely to live in poverty than white children. As a cost to society, it would be far cheaper to “nurture” the growth and development of impoverished children – yes, by way of social programs – than the social cost of “treatment” (incarceration) later in life when impoverished children become a statistic of the collective industrial prison system.

    But we, as individuals, have been socially conditioned in this country to vehemently abhor the cost of childhood development. “She’s your kid, ain’t my problem!”

    The goal, on the Christian Right, is to make sure you’re born, not to develop you to become productive members of society. “Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps,” becomes the inculcated mantra, the resulting 2nd highest incarceration rate in the world becoming our badge of honor (a close second to China but they have five times our population and live under authoritarian rule).

    Ask an educator in Norway what they do about their high school drop out rate and they’ll look at you like you have a phallus growing out of the top of your head, “we don’t have one. Why would you not go to high school,” the obvious response.

    The trending move on the Right in this country is not to provide more funding for education, but rather, to pull that money away from public spending to help subsidize those that are already attending private schools – former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVoss comes to mind, her children never attended public school, which I don’t have a problem with. But I do have a problem with her, and those on the right, taking money from public schools to help subsidize private-school education for their children.

    Under the Republican scheme, “the money will follow the children to private education of choice, home schooling, Christian schools, for-profit charter schools, etc. Voucher programs. You can get your kids out of “failing schools,” becomes the selling point. But……what they’re NOT telling you is that, collectively, it will cost more, both, in terms of finances and also in terms of educational achievement and success post education.

    How are public schools funded? Through property taxes. Where do you think they’re going to get public education money that was pulled away from public schools? You guessed it – higher taxes!

    Governor Sawblade Abbott in Texas, is holding up public school money, as we speak, until he gets “voucher” legislation to fund private education! Many States are doing the same. He has primaried members of his own party to get rid of Republicans resistant to his efforts to transfer public money to the wealthy.

    While rich kids will go to the best private schools, subsidized with your property taxes, the not so wealthy will opt for privately run Christian schools or even home schooling, the fruits of their labor showing up 12 years later when their children have difficulty coping in a global and competitive economic environment exponentially more reliant on automated productivity.

    Not to worry though. Your kids can get minimum wage jobs in nursing homes wiping the incontinent asses of those in my generation!

    I came from an impoverished environment, my first language being redneck! I got out, after dropping out of high school, by way of the USMC – they have a great development program, lol. But investment in our children is probably the single biggest long- term cost savings measure we can embark on, imo. Along with Universal Healthcare (like all other civilized countries in the OECD).

    Juneteenth is a celebration but also an opportunity to rethink our priorities in terms of where we want to go and what we want to be. American isolationism is a fool’s errand. The so-called “globalism” that those on the right preach about being the bane of our “exceptional status,” is a lie. Corporations took your jobs overseas, not a political party. Jobs will always follow the money, the cheapest cost of production the driver. We live in a global economy and always will.

    We can see where the ship can go. Just need to steer it toward the best outcome.

    Don’t let politicians scare you into what THEY want. You scare them into doing what YOU want, regardless of party affiliation.

    Call your reps and tell their staff what you want – takes all of two minutes. You can request a one-on-one meeting with your rep. If you had a family member with problems, you wouldn’t kick them to the curb. You’d try to figure out a way to help them. Do the same for your country.

    We ARE the collective. Let’s make this a better country – for all!

    Alright, off my soapbox.

    We’re all on the Titan submersible. Let’s not take it down to “test depth!”

  2. Ironmoped June 27, 2024 at 10:45 am

    As one more outrage side note, Corporations in the United States are “people too” (see Mitt Romney and Citizens United).

    So, Corporations are people. Corporate free speech (free speech being a people’s right), is in the form of money. Corporate free speech is money. Campaign money – that ultimately comes back to the Corporation through legislation. One hand washes the other.

    But check this out. If you, as a U.S. citizen, marry someone from overseas, a foreign National (whether you live overseas or not, doesn’t matter), you are subject to U.S. taxes on ALL worldwide income from both you and your spouse! If you hide it you’re subject to legal issues. Granted, you get a credit for any overseas taxes paid to a foreign country, but you’re still subject to taxes on all world-wide income, stocks, bonds, salaries, banking interest, etc. – All income.

    A U.S. Corporation; however, is NOT responsible for U.S. taxes on all world-wide income. But legally, they are “people” just like you and me. But in America, they are special privileged people!

    Corporations get to hide their money overseas while you get to pay US taxes on any money you may have or receive from overseas.

    Dell Computer, as just one example, set up shop many years ago in Bray, Ireland to avoid U.S. income taxes on profits, as do many other Corporations shielding their income from taxes.

    And who makes up for that loss of tax revenue? You do! And your children and their children and their children!

    Another example. Medicare in the U.S. is NOT allowed to negotiate drug prices with big pharma (although Biden has made inroads with ten drugs – a drop in the proverbial bucket).

    Ask your congressional rep why Medicare is not allowed to negotiate drug prices and laugh at the word-salad non response that you get back if any! They think you’re stupid!

    Medicare services 65 million Americans! Funded with tax dollars. Your money! And they (Congress), won’t let Medicare negotiate drug prices.


    Because big pharma has MANY lobbyists to campaign on their behalf and give bribe money to your elected representatives! Bribe money in the form of campaign contributions.

    The VA, as another example, servicing 8 million veterans, 12% of the number of Medicare recipients, IS allowed to negotiate drug prices! You know why? Because higher costs of drugs for veterans would get immediate negative publicity and your representative would find themselves out of a job.

    But here’s the point. Almost everyone (except the rich who do not receive salaries), pays Medicare taxes. Comes right out of your pay check. You don’t see it, you don’t think about it.

    But you/we are being robbed blind! Republicans run on not raising taxes while defending Corporations that legally hide money overseas without paying taxes. Democrats are no better. They’ve had super majorities and didn’t do anything about it. When they won’t let Medicare negotiate drug prices, they’re stealing from YOU! The more you pay for drugs, the more money Big Pharma has to bribe politicians with!

    It’s time for us to put aside differences and focus on what we can do to make it better.

    Universal healthcare, as one more example, would save in excess of $500 Billion a year in total U.S. healthcare spending. Mitt Romney talked about how the poor can go to the emergency room for treatment. Really? Who do you think pays for it? Ever looked at a property tax bill? Emergency room for a cold? For preventive care? The only thing it prevents is you having a higher standard of living with all the “soft” taxes you pay!

    Intended to be educational for those that may not be thinking about it.

    We’re all on the Titan submersible but we don’t have to be. We can tell our political leaders, regardless of stripe, we’re on to you, we’re fed up with it, and y’all need to correct your thinking and start doing something for US!

    We need to come together to get this fixed! It can be done. It just takes a collective voice!

    Off me soapbox!

  3. Hahahaha July 16, 2024 at 7:29 pm

    I thought Juneteenth was celebrated by twerking on ambulances trying to get to a medical emergency.

  4. Grey One Talks Sass July 17, 2024 at 5:41 am

    Troll, that’s what you get for doing what you call thinking.

    How a People and Culture forged from the ashes from what Once Was chooses to celebrate the news of the ending of their slavery (but not subjugation) is none of business.

    Does the trolls idea of history sound to anyone else like their idea of history is derived from music videos?

  5. Grey One Talks Sass July 17, 2024 at 5:44 am

    None of my business. Sigh. My fingers are not fingering today.

    I can suggest but prefer not to tell others what to do. That’s standard operating procedures.

  6. Hahahaha July 17, 2024 at 5:50 am

    Yea, twerking on ambulances and stopping someone who is dieing from receiving life saving medical receiving sounds just about right as a Juneteenth celebration. Definitely tracks

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