Juneteenth American History


Southwest / Texas 91 Views

Juneteenth American History

by Billy “Hollywood” Groves

This is June and the most celebrated holiday in African-American history of slavery will be honored on June 19. Unless you have been on another planet or live in a remotely isolated area you have heard of Juneteenth, an official American holiday. As a young man growing up in Texas, Juneteenth or as it was called back then, the 19th of June, was always a special holiday for Black people.

Everywhere you went African American communities celebrated with food, prayers, laughter and entertainment. It would be years later before I understood the significance and what it meant. African Americans adults and older people who lived through the early days of freedom from slavery viewed it as a special time when their people became free. Although President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, it was over two years before Blacks in Texas were allowed to leave as free people. On June 19, 1865 the Union Army known as Yankees arrived at Galveston and delivered the information that slaves no longer belonged to their plantation owners. They proceeded to take that news all over Texas, part of the South’s Confederate Rebel” Army. The Black freed slaves were allowed to celebrate their freedom right on the grounds where they were held captive. However a few years later, the Ku Klux Klan burned down a lot of the courthouses in Texas, especially East Texas which probably had the most slaves during that era, and destroyed many records of those who fought for the South. Without these records, those who fought against America could not be identified and would not have to face restrictions for their actions. With the records gone, the local confederates soon took back most of the property that they controlled before the Civil War. They took advantage of the newly freed Black people by making fake deals where they used the Blacks farming, foodgrowing sills and labor for their benefit. They would get all of the products through a proper- ty deal where the blacks were growing and making money but never got out of debt. The Black people were worth millions of dollars as slaves and they made their owners and their communities rich.

After the abolishment of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865, Texas went broke over night without free labor provided by the slaves. It took a while and even some un- der the table deals with the U.S. Government for the rebels of the defeated Texans to get back in control of the economy. These days African Ameri- cans are still fighting for their civil rights and freedom, although slavery has been over for 150 plus years. In East Texas, people like Dr. Ianthia Fisher of Crockett, a former educator and Minister has been directing a Juneteenth parade and festivities for over three decades. I can proudly say that we have had white leaders like former Houston County Judge Erin ford and other Hispanic leaders participating in Juneteenth parades and festivities. Juneteenth activities have spread all over America and people are recognizing it as a National and even global Holiday. We must not forget that Black soldiers fought in large numbers for the American Northern Army and were the main reason the North defeated the South. I have heard some “people of knowledge” say many times that President Lincoln put the black men on the battlefield because he feared losing the war. Whether that is true or not, “We Are Free”, now and we will nev- er be American slaves again. Have a great Juneteenth Day Celebration on June 19, 2018, your descendants are proudly looking down from heaven. God Bless America!