‘Freedom Day’ takes on special significance this year
by Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO, AARP, June 18, 2020 | Comments: 57
As a young girl growing up in rural Alabama, I learned about the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, to free the slaves. But I also learned, much to my dismay, that when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, it didn’t end slavery in every state, only those controlled by the Confederacy.
It wasn’t until Major General Gordon Granger stood before a crowd in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, and read General Orders, No. 3, which began by stating “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free” — that the last remaining slaves in the U.S. were actually freed.
Today, 155 years later, we still celebrate June 19th as Juneteenth, which eventually spread across the country from its Texas origins. It’s also known as Black Independence Day, Freedom Day and Emancipation Day. It is seen as a time for reflection and assessment, for focusing on education and achievement, and for self-improvement and for looking ahead to the future.
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