As a divided America entered the third year of its bloodiest war, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on July 1, 1863. He decreed “that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free.”
Word of the proclamation spread far and wide, but many did not become aware of their freedom for nearly two years! On June 19, 1865 General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas, the remotest of the former slave states, and read the Federal order that all slaves in Texas were liberated. Celebrations followed with singing, dancing, and jubilations. The date became an annual, albeit, unofficial holiday, for many Americans of color.
Juneteenth is an opportunity to acknowledge the horrors of slavery and to proclaim and protect liberty for all throughout our land.