With overwhelming support from both chambers of Congress, President Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a national holiday. This holiday recognizes June 19, 1865, when Union Major General Gordon Granger read federal orders stating that all enslaved people in Texas were free. It celebrates the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederacy. Below is an account of the events:
. . . General Order No. 3, read on June 19, 1865 announcing that all slaves were free, is one of Galveston’s most important historical moments. US President Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. Issued under powers granted to the president “as a fit and necessary war measure”, the proclamation declared, “That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward and forever free…” However, Lincoln’s proclamation would have little impact on Texans at that time due to the small number of Union troops available to enforce it.
Two and a half years later, in June of 1865, more than two thousand Federal soldiers of the 13th Army Corps arrived in Galveston and with them Major General Gordon Granger, Commanding Officer, District of Texas. Granger’s men marched through Galveston reading General Order, No. 3 . . . . The order informed all Texans that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves were free. (https://www.galvestonhistory.org/news/juneteenth-and-general-order-no-3)
To observe Juneteenth this year, PK Law has made a donation the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The museum is dedicated to elevating the African American experience to its rightful place at the center of our nation’s history and culture as part of the Smithsonian Institution.
Juneteenth is celebrated in many ways. Below is a mural painted in the City of Galveston where the last group of slaves were told of their freedom. We hope you take some time on Juneteenth this year to reflect on freedom and equality and what justice for all truly means.