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Juneteenth

I don’t want to be “that guy;” but I wish CNN, NPR, and others, would stop staying that “slavery ended on June 19th, 1865.” Yes, June 19th is when the Union army showed up in Galveston, Texas.

Keep in mind that the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the United States. The Proclamation applied only to “any State or designated part of a State… in rebellion against the United States.” It specifically excluded Memphis, New Orleans, and Norfolk and similarly did not apply to the border slave states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware—slaveholding states that sided with the Union. Therefore, the Proclamation only declared those enslaved to be free where people were in rebellion—and over one million African-Americans outside those areas remained enslaved. In other words, if you sided with the Union [and Lincoln] you could keep your enslaved humans. Texas was in the Confederacy. On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, with a force of Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, delivered General Order Number 3, that the war was over and the enslaved Blacks in Texas were “free.”

My point is that AFTER Juneteenth, slavery was not only practiced but was LEGAL in border states until December 6, 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified and abolished non-penal slavery nationwide.

Yes, we should ALL celebrate Juneteenth. I am not throwing shade on Juneteenth. Just remember that over one million Blacks remained legally enslaved after June 19th. And, that the promise of General Order Number 3, “an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves” quickly devolved into the next 100+ years of legalized, constitutional, and judicially sanctioned, Jim Crow racial segregation and discrimination.

And of course, when these legal “institutionalized” forms of racist discrimination did not stop Black progress and political activity, violence and cruelty were employed.  Beatings, lynching, and other forms of murder were not only sanctioned but were promoted by many white political leaders and citizens’ terrorists’ groups like the Ku Klux Klan.  Historian John Hope Franklin has called this period [after Juneteenth] the “darkest and bloodiest hour for African-Americans…the cruelty was worse than slavery…at least a slave was valuable if obedient.”  In 2015, the Equal Justice Initiative reported that “[F]rom the Civil War until World War II, millions of African Americans were terrorized and traumatized by the lynching of thousands of black men, women and children.”[1]


[1]See Executive summary: http://www.eji.org/files/EJI%20Lynching%20in%20America%20SUMMARY.pdf and Equal Justice Initiative Website:   http://www.eji.org/node/1037

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