Saturday, June 18, 2022

Juneteenth Eve

Tomorrow is June 19.

For many years, I knew June 19 as the birthday of an almost lifelong friend (now, sadly, no longer with us).

As an adult, I learned that June 19 had another meaning and another name:  Juneteenth.  Here is a brief history of Juneteenth and its meaning.

I never learned about Juneteenth in school.  Surprising, perhaps, that my school system in New York City, so highly regarded in the 1950's and 1960's, didn't teach me about Juneteenth in the midst of the 1960's Civil Rights movement?   But they never taught me about the Tulsa Race Riots, either, or so many other occurrences that Black people suffered through in their just over 400 years in our country.

Now, Juneteenth, June 19, is a Federal holiday.  Its official name is Juneteenth National Independence Day, but it is also known as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day.

Tomorrow will be my Father's Day post, and Monday my Music Moves Me post, so I want to bring you three songs today in commemoration of the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were told that they were free.

One thing I did learn in school was a song called "Lift Every Voice and Sing", here sung by Alicia Keys. This song was a hymn written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900.  The music was written by Johnson's brother.

Let's move forward to the 1960's. Nina Simone and Mississippi Goddam, a song from 1964 that I heard for the first time earlier this week.  What a powerful song it is. 

Finally, a song by Sam Cooke that was released two weeks after his death -  A Change is Gonna Come.

The document issued by a Union general that led to Juneteenth is called General Order 3 and you will note how it reads towards the end:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

A long hard path followed, one that is still being walked.


  1. ...the Republicans will effectively erase Juneteenth for history.

  2. There’s so much history we never learned in school.

  3. No, I never learned about these events in school in CA either. I wonder how that "work for wages" worked out? "...not supported in idleness either..." makes me think how many would have been kicked out for asking for pay, and then arrested for being "idle." How the Tulsa Race Riots were ignored in history classes is just unbelievable. Of course, in CA we were learning about the "happy Indians" on the missions. (Your blog is one of the few that lets me "sign in to Google" in order to post.)

  4. It amazing what we wasn't taught in school.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

  5. So much was hidden, and now is no different. Difference is that we are just now raising our hands.

  6. I just found out it is now a National Holiday, it was not in our history books either. :)

  7. It's a very important new holiday. We need to keep pushing to learn this history that has been painted over by those in power.


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