By DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post
Juneteenth … is one of the oldest celebrations commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It has its roots in the long-awaited moment of emancipation in Texas, where more than 250,000 enslaved black people received news on June 19, 1865 — more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — that they were free. …
In 1865, Texas slave owners had refused to acknowledge the end of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Black people were in such a delicate situation in Texas,” said C.R. Gibbs, a historian and author of “Black, Copper & Bright: The District of Columbia’s Black Civil War Regiment.” “You have the collapse of the Confederate government. And roving bands of men who wanted to turn the clock back. A Union officer once said, ‘Given a choice between hell and Texas, I would live in hell and rent out Texas.’ It was just that bad in Texas.”
Then, on June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed on Galveston Island with more than 2,000 Union troops. He stood at the Headquarters District of Texas in Galveston and read “General Order No. 3”:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
Black people who heard the news erupted in what Gibbs calls “a moment of indescribable joy.”
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