Juneteenth, commonly known as Freedom Day, commemorates the day on June 19, 1865, when enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, discovered their freedom, and over two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
The irony that many members of Congress who voted to make #Juneteenth A federal holiday also support a ban on teaching about it in public schools is not lost on us.
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) June 19, 2022
On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and it’s incredible that it took two and a half years for the word to reach enslaved people in Texas.
Many slaves were aware of Lincoln’s presidential decree freeing them. The story was widely publicized in Texas media, with an anti-abolitionist slant, and black people overheard white people discussing it in private and in public.
Furthermore, there was an exceedingly sophisticated communication network among slaves in Texas, according to Edward T. Cotham, Jr., a Texas Civil War historian and author of Juneteenth, The Story behind the Celebration. Such information spread like wildfire. We know that some slaves were aware of the Emancipation Proclamation before slave-owners. It was meaningless since there was no troops to enforce it.
Last year, both state and federal governments passed legislation making June 19th, often known as Juneteenth, an official holiday. Since it was only declared a public holiday last year, Juneteenth has long been observed by Black communities across the country to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans at the end of the Civil War.
Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day, and Emancipation Day. Since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983, this is the most current new federal holiday. Pastors will share a special message with their congregation because it falls on The Lord’s Day.
Many American organizations, historians say, had a part in defending slavery and white supremacy, especially the Christian church, which used the Bible to justify enslaving African Americans.
Inside the documentary Juneteenth, Faith & Freedom, Christian apologist Lisa Fields argues it’s not surprising that the first legally constituted organization by the freed people of Galveston was a church. According to Fields, they were believing God would liberate them, not Abraham Lincoln or their slave masters.