Juneteenth – Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865….

The Emancipation Proclamation, declared by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 during the American Civil War, only freed slaves held in Confederate states. The emancipation became national policy, when the Thirteenth Amendment was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, and by the House on January 31, 1865.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,
shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

it was with this exception, “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” that a new form of slavery developed in the 20th century, as discriminatory laws made it easy for local officials to arrest African Americans and other poor residents for minor infractions.
Labor practices known as convict-leasing allowed private individuals to lease prisoners out for forced labors. Convicts built roads, erected levees, toiled in factories, or worked at any other task that needed free labor in places still under Confederate control. [ In example: Samuel James, a major in the Confederate Army, bought the plantation land and secured the lease to run the state’s penitentiary.]

Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as “Juneteenth,” by the newly freed people in Texas.

Juneteenth Celebrations

Juneteenth’s celebrations are usually celebrated outdoors involving, prayer service, speaker series, reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and dances are among other events. Some states observe it as a paid holiday such as: Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington.

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