The NAACP observes Juneteenth this week. Today is the anniversary of Juneteenth June 19,1865, the day that the Texan slaves found out they were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years after it happened. The 200,000 Texan slaves were the very last to be informed. Major General Gordon Granger and his Union soldiers delivered the news to the slaves and after that day it became a tradition for African Americans to celebrate freedom every year around this time. As former slaves these African Americans knew what it was like to not be granted the rights to property, education, or employment by their own country. June 19th was nicknamed Juneteenth and celebrated throughout Texas and spread to other states.
The traditional celebration had food, praying, and festivities usually all taking place on church owned property. During the prayer service participants thanked God for freeing them. Among the festivities were sports, talent, contests, and fireworks. After the Great Migration and Civil Rights eras Juneteenth was not as widely celebrated.
Today there are still some very grand Juneteenth celebrations that can last for several days. The Juneteenth flag with its rectangle and five pointed star serves as a reminder that slavery was made illegal. Juneteenth is a rich tradition that continues to promote education and self-improvement. Education is one of the fundamental goals of the NAACP as well as advocacy. Check your local paper for a celebration near you.
For more information about Juneteenth click here