Celebrating Juneteenth!

Juneteenth—a new federal holiday Juneteenth has been declared a federal holiday! A few days ago, the US Senate and now the US House of Representatives voted for a day to recognize the ending of slavery in the US.

Freedom Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom.

More meaningful than ever Juneteenth is even more meaningful today than it ever was. Americans are focusing on the legacy of slavery. We are focusing on the harms to Black people that began with slavery and exist to this very day. What can we do to help repair the damage?

Systemic racism and equity We are working to end systemic racism. And we are looking for the best ways to achieve equity for African Americans.

Short for June 19th Juneteenth is short for June 19th. And people—mostly Black people–have been celebrating Juneteenth since 1865.

President Abraham Lincoln January 1, 1863, President Lincoln freed the slaves. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This famous statement said, in part, “…that all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free.”

Long before 1863 In 1841 a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln, who had just begun to practice law, helped free a Black man named William Costley, along with his mother and two sisters. These were the first Black people to be freed.

In 1863 Many slaveholders did release “their” slaves.

But in Texas In Texas, it was another story. The slaveholders there believed that they did not have to follow the U.S. law. And so they didn’t. They did not release “their” slaves.

Finally It took another two years before the slaves in Texas learned that they were free.

June 19, 1865 General Gordon Granger, a white man, led his soldiers into Galveston, Texas to free the slaves on June 19, 1865. He announced to the slaveholders that they had to free the slaves.

Black soldiers and white soldiers Those Union troops were made up of Black soldiers as well as white soldiers. And one of these Black soldiers was William Costley. He was the man the young attorney Abraham Lincoln had helped to become free so many years before, when he was just a boy.

Ancestors Black soldiers dressed in blue uniforms came to Galveston to free their brothers and sisters. These soldiers and the freed slaves are the ancestors of many who celebrate today.

From that day on The Black people of Texas were no longer slaves. They began celebrating Juneteenth, and have never stopped since that day.

Read this New York Times article for more information about Juneteenth.

WIC and Juneteenth We at WIC also celebrate Juneteenth—the freeing of the slaves, the achievements of African Americans, and the resilience of a people who have lived through so much.