June 19th, more commonly known as Juneteenth, is the oldest known commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It’s a time to celebrate and remember those who suffered through the tyranny of the Confederacy during that era.
From 1861 to 1865, the North and South fought the great Civil War. Gulfport resident Rip Daniels said, “When Lee surrendered in April of 1865, all of the South did not know about it. Texas did not know and there were people who were still considering themselves enslaved.”
However, before the Civil War ended in 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, two and a half years earlier. “That simply said the states that were still in combat against the Union, those who were enslaved were forever more free. It took a while to get that information out. You had telegraph and that was it. So, here we have telephone, telegraph, tell someone else and in those days it was someone tell someone else and typically that was by horseback. It took a considerable amount of time to alert everyone from Key West, Florida to Brownsville, Texas.”
History shows June 19th, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger issued an order to establish the Union army’s authority over the people of Texas. By doing that, he also established the basis for the holiday Juneteenth. “The whole idea was to celebrate the victory. There are very few celebrations of victories that African Americans have had and every battle we fought we’ve won. There’s a lot of victories here and that includes participating with the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War, that includes fighting in the Spanish American War, that includes the Civil War and fighting for this country. It was a way for soldiers and citizens alike in Texas to celebrate the end of the war and the victory of achieving freedom.”