Reflections on the Spirit of Juneteenth: Celebrating 150 years of Freedom

Reflections on the Spirit of Juneteenth: Celebrating 150 years of Freedom

By Kendra Anderson, MS, UCA Doctoral Student

© Gnagel | Dreamstime.com - Little Rock Nine Civil Rights Memorial Photo

© Gnagel | Dreamstime.com – Little Rock Nine Civil Rights Memorial Photo

June 19th, 2015, marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, a celebration that is held annually to commemorate the end of the institution of slavery in the United States. On this day in 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to deliver the news of the end of the Civil War and ordered that all slaves be freed. Though the Emancipation Proclamation enacted in January of 1863 legally abolished slavery, it did not end the practice of slavery in states that succeeded from the Union. It is estimated the some 250,000 slaves in the state of Texas were not emancipated until the end of the war, as news of Major General Granger’s announcement spread throughout the state – nearly two and a half years after the declaration of the Emancipation Proclamation. As news of freedom spread, it is said that people rejoiced in the streets of Galveston and let out cries of jubilation toward their newfound freedom.

Today, that same spirit of freedom and jubilation is celebrated in festivals both nationally and globally. While Juneteenth is celebrated as ‘Independence Day’ among the African American community, it is the spirit of Juneteenth that unites us in our belief for equal rights. The spirit of Juneteenth signifies a day that dignity triumphed over indignity and malevolence, a day that inequality took a step toward equality. As Juneteenth approaches, it is my hope that this time will not only serve as an occasion for the celebration of freedom, but also as a time of reflection on the progress we have made – and the work we still have left – toward social justice and equality.

Please reference the website below if you would like more information about the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth: http://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm

 

If you would like more information about Juneteenth festivities in the Little Rock area, please visit: UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity