Juneteenth Jubilation: Celebrating the End of Slavey
By Cleo Lampos
In the history book from which I taught, January 1, 1863 was acknowledged as the day of the Emancipation Proclamation which finally freed the slaves. President Abraham Lincoln signed it into the law of the land and the church bells pealed out the news. From my perspective, it was a done deal, and the freedom of all slaves was secure.
Everywhere, but in Texas.
There were few Union troops to enforce the law or Lincoln’s executive order. So, slavery persisted in Texas for another two and a half years. Gen. Gordon Granger’s regiment arrived in Galveston two months after the Confederate Army surrendered and then all the people in the United States were deemed to be free. That date was June 19, 1865.
Every year since then, the third Saturday of June has been celebrated as Juneteenth, a day for recognizing the hardships and sacrifices made by so many as well as honoring the hard-fought freedom of black people in America.
Across America, Juneteenth is a day for educating, celebrating and gathering. It became a state holiday in Illinois in 2004. One Juneteenth Jubilation at Sand Ridge Nature Center in South Holland, Illinois, will include an interpretive hike that simulates what it was like for slaves to travel the Underground Railroad seeking freedom. The point is to give a sense of how hard it was to go from slavery to freedom and include the elements of danger and deprivation. The event also uses crafts, music, food and history displays to educate today’s generation about this historic event.
This is my chance to salute those who are working on projects like this which will be informative and entertaining at the same time. Our grandchildren need to know how the past has made the future and why we must appreciate all the freedoms that this wonderful country affords. Let us use all historic events to promote a consciousness of our priceless heritage.