Not everyone has heard of Juneteenth. If you happen to fall into that group of people who have lived their lives blissfully unaware of this important holiday, then I will remove from it the veil of obscurity that has allowed it to escape your notice. Every self-respecting American capable of reading this should have, by now, heard of the Emancipation Proclamation. That is the document that destroyed the bondage of slavery in the rebel states during the Civil War. Even though it punched history hard in the face, it still did not quite get the knock-out needed to win the bout. Slavery still existed in the border-states and in the areas not yet defeated by union forces. In 1862, Lincoln put the Emancipation Proclamation into effect, but that did not end the atrocity of slavery.
Well, if that did not do it, then what exactly did? Obviously the Civil War had to come to an end before the proclamation could be truly enforced. Texas didn’t see much action during the War Between the States. That was all eastward in places like Mississippi, Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Texas was “over there” and needn’t be bothered with. Union resources were wrapped up in fighting a war. In Texas, there simply wasn’t anyone around to enforce the Union’s edicts. As a result, many slave owners saw it as a haven in which to perpetuate their way of life.
Then, Lee surrendered in April of 1865. It was a hard fought defeat at the hands of Grant’s forces at the courthouse of Appomattox, Virginia. The war ended. The Union had won. Slavery did not have long to live. However, they didn’t have the internet back then, so information didn’t travel at the speed of light. Back then, news rode upon the back of a donkey and took its time.
More than two years later, the news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached the slave population of Texas. There are many theories as to why it took so much time, murdered messengers, intentional deception, waiting out the harvest, but none of them matter. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger walked into Galveston, Texas and issued General Order Number 3. In doing so, he lined up the institution of slavery and prepared it for the firing squad. In December of that year, with the ratification of the 13th Amendment, the federal government sent slavery to the grave. Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June 19th, commemorates that day – the day we truly became the Land of the Free.
The African American community embraced it as a new beginning. The tyranny of slavery, as a government sanctioned institution, lay dead. But its spirit lived on in the hearts and minds of the former masters. It would be folly to think that such a monumental switch in culture could be flipped overnight. Embracing African Americans as equals proved to be quite the paradigm shift for many whites in the south. So when the first Juneteenth celebrations took place, they did so in a volatile environment filled with scorn and shock. Celebrations happened anyway. The journey was too long overdue to be stopped.
Ownership turned to persecution and culture shock gave way to hate. Disruptions were staged to upset festivities. Public lands were barred from use. Intimidation spread with a heavy hand. Not every former master positioned himself against the tide, though. In Fact, many employers allowed for the day off during this celebration of freedom. The resistance was still strong enough, however, to instigate the moving of these events out into the rural areas near forests, rivers, and fields where people could meet without the hardship of a harrowing society
With the right to own land bestowed upon all, the inevitability of dedicated grounds gave birth to Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. It is the oldest known land purchase in the name of Juneteenth. Soon to follow it was the founding of Booker T. Washington Park in Mexia. Both became landmark celebration sites for many decades to come.
Juneteenth is more than a day of independence. It is a day in which an identity was born. It is a day that demonstrates the power of perseverance and the overcoming of obstacles. It recognizes the need for self-improvement and spiritual awakening. Celebrations often consist of many outdoor activities such as fishing and baseball. It can be a parade. It can be a gathering of family and friends in the back yard for a barbeque, or it can be something that happens entirely at the dinner table. Juneteenth is about taking a moment of pause and reflecting on the struggle of acknowledging that all men (and women too) are created equal and have been endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It is not about color. It is about the human endeavor. History has been paved with the misdeeds and oppressive nature of an evolving mankind. Juneteenth in one more step forward in that evolution. Juneteenth reminds us that our future can be brighter than our past. We look back so that we can see how far we have come. We look forward to see how far we have yet to go. It will take time, but we will get there.
I am ready to join my brothers and sisters in the African American community as we push forward into the future of this nation. I am ready to create that future through real estate and education, my specialties. Improving homeownership rates for blacks all over the U.S. through programs and fair lending opportunities will improve the lives of all in the black community as well as the nation as a whole, one family at a time. As we celebrate independence, keep my services in mind. Real estate ownership is wealth and money talks. I am ready to help you now, because after all The Power Is Now! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consult with me. We can figure out the next step that is best for you.
Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA
President and CEO