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Updated by kayleemullendore on Sep 19, 2019
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What You Need to Know: Juneteenth

Curated Juneteenth research from primary and secondary resources for a video storytelling project.


On June 19, 1865 Major General Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas with Union soldiers. Two and a half years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the slaves in Texas would finally find out that they were free and considered equal to everyone, even those who had tortured them for their entire lives.


Shock and joy overwhelm the newly freed slaves. But it was not accepted by everyone in the beginning. Some celebration in Huntsville accounts for a man almost cutting a "black woman in half" on the road. There was conflicting feelings of the slaves. Were they to leave and risk being harmed by their masters?


While the slaves were physically freed from slavery, a new society would add new restrictions and fears to their lives. Violence was at an all time high in Texas after the slaves were freed. There were actions like African Americans being hunted down by blood hounds because they didn't do what their "master" had told them. So many acts of violence became the new kind of suffering the "free" now had to face. The number of those who were "beaten, mutilated, and murdered" in the first few years will never be known because it wasn't illegal. This brings up the question, how free is free?
Ch. 9 "Major Problems in Texas History" Second Edition. Sam W. Haynes, Cary D. Wintz.


Juneteenth is celebrated because it was such a huge step towards equality for the Unite States. It is a reminder of overcoming inhumane mindsets to promote free lives and opportunities for everyone despite the past. It also celebrates African Americans and their strength and commemorates the suffering that their ancestors unwillingly went through that got our society to the way it is today. It overall is a celebration of culture and African American achievements.

  1. Emancipation Proclamation was official January 1, 1863
  2. Had little impact on Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new order
  3. 800,000 slaves were not affected by the order
  4. Forces became strong enough after the surrender of General Lee and the arrival of Granger's regiment

General Orders No. 3

"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 rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer"


Possible reasons for delay

  1. Messenger killed on his way to Texas
  2. Slaveholders kept the news from slaves in return for bad behavior, such as killing masters
  3. Whites kept it a secret to maintain the labor on plantations; it would have harmed the economy to lose it
  4. Slave's work made whites able to be in the Confederate Army

Personal Accounts

"We was afraid to leave the place at first...we moved away jes as far as we could." -Annie Hawkins
"Seen a negro woman chopping wood... I found out they didn't know they was free yet." -Phyllis Petite
"[Master] "I'd lak for you to stay till the crops is laid"- Lewis Jenkins

Ch 9. "Major Problems in Texas History." Second Edition. Sam W. Haynes, Cary D. Wintz.

These accounts show the skew of different emotions and experiences from former slaves. The amount of reliance that the white man had on their slaves to do their work was saddening. Some slaves were still kept from the news despite it being law.