If you didn’t know, Juneteenth has its origin in Texas, where slaves hundreds of miles from Washington D.C. received the news that they were freemen June 18 and 19, 1865. New Year’s Day may be the day when the Emancipation took place on paper, but we all know the difference between technical fact and reality. June 18 is the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves.
I enjoy Juneteenth because I enjoy traveling from Cleveland on through Akron, to Warren, then to Youngstown, seeming in one accord with every African-American I meet. If the stranger already knew of Juneteenth, it would be a happy greeting and a informing of the closest public barbecue. If they didn’t know about Juneteenth, which is a state holiday in 41 of our 50 states, I’d explain that it is Emancipation Day and a wonderful foreshadowing to Independence Day.
I love both holidays and I love learning how far the Union has come. My Southern grandmother was born on a sharecropping farm; my Northern grandmother, in a small industrial town. My Southern grandfather served his country with honor. My Northern grandfather was an aloof, biracial stoic.
Share Juneteenth with someone with a story to tell, and it’ll be a holiday well-spent.