AfriGeneas States Research Forum
[TX] The event in Houston
In Response To: [TX] Celebrating Freedom in Texas ()
Juneteenth, a Celebration of Freedom
"Juneteenth", the slurring together of "June Nineteenth", is an unusual name for a state holiday, and I've heard opinions from both Black and White folks who call it a foolish name - a "made up" holiday. But Juneteenth is real - as real as the bones in your body. The name is a reminder that this holiday was kept alive by unwritten traditions and spoken word for over a century, because it was just that important. Bear in mind that the original Juneteenth celebrants (one third of the people in Texas) were slaves when the sun rose on June 19, 1865 and free men and women when the sun set that day. Perhaps they couldn't read or write, but they sure could remember, and they did.
The former slaves passed Juneteenth on to their children and grandchildren. Historical documentation bears out that June 19th has always been the true "Independence Day" for Texans of African descent.
Texas freedmen didn't have easy lives. Still, each year they took this day to come together and celebrate on "emancipation grounds" - common land bought for just this purpose. Emancipation Park in Houston (Dowling at Elgin) is the site Rev. Jack Yates purchased for the people of Freedmen's Town in 1872 - other Texas communities have similar spots. Traditions of barbecuing, making music, drinking red soda pop and sharing with family and neighbors in the park (and taking the day off from work whether one's boss approved or not) - all grew up naturally around the anniversary of Emancipation.
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