in Texas
June 19, 1865 
A Celebration of Freedom
Angela Y. Walton-Raji, former HOST GFS Angela 
"The People of Texas are informed that in accordance with a
 proclamation from the Executive office of the United States, 
all slaves are free....."

.....and so it begins, the declaration made in the city of Galveston Texas, in June of 1865 bringing word from Washington of the surrender at Appomattox, and of the release from bondage of all Africans held formerly as slaves. This celebration is the oldest celebration of its kind that commemorates the freedom of African slaves from bondage.

The first Juneteenth occurred on June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston Texas and read the proclamation.  It took some time for the word to spread throughout the city, but within a few short hours, word had spread, slaves dropped their tools of bondage and the first
celebration of freedom began. 

The festivities began on all levels. From Galveston to smaller towns in East Texas, celebrations began ranging from small thanksgiving prayer services to jubilant festive events.  The city of Galveston was said to have resembled a northern city by the almost lack of black presence in the city itself. The city's former slaves were with family and loved ones savoring the first sweet moments of freedom with each other.

There have been many emancipation celebrations throughout the south, celebrated on various days in other states.  The term Juneteenth itself was not coined until the 1920's. In other places in the south, the celebration is one where black  workers have actually been excused from work to celebrate the events. In Texas during the era of segregation, Juneteenth celebrants were actually allowed access to whites only amusement centers, until the inequity was pointed out to the city commission, that access should be year round, and not
limited to one day.

Eventually  the celebration died over the years, but it experienced a rebirth when it was noted in the 1970's that the state of Texas continued to celebrate Confederate Heroes day, and within a short time the annual Juneteenth celebration returned with not only the celebration of freedom being a focus, but also a celebration of history, and culture being at the heart of the events.  The event has spread widely now throughout the country, and is an annual event from New England, throughout the midwest, deep south, and to the western states.

Juneteenth is here to stay, as a celebration of African people in the American experience.

Ruth Stubblefield Researched Texas From Her Motor Home
 A Comprehensive History
of African Americans in Texas


It is amazing to look at Ruth Stubblefield, a member of  AfriGeneas, who literally jumped in her mobile home drove to Texas and parked near the source of her research in Walker County.  In her own words:

" I'm spending 5-6 months here in this nest of Stubblefields and finding a wealth of info.  Things are here you can't find anywhere else. Marriage records, Original unclaimed marriage certificates (found my Gr-Grandmothers cert. 103 years old),  Tax records for their property every year since 1872, Original Divorce complaints and action, My gr-grandfathers name on a list of blacks who voted in a special election in 1873. I found records I never thought existed. I now have enough to  keep me busy for the next year....Ruth Stubblefield "
Ruth what courage and commitment! We all want to be just like you when we grow up!

Spanish Colonial Period to Statehood

African Americans are not newcomers to Texas. A few arrived with the first Europeans. They were actually people of color who were in fact Moors. A Moor is a Moslem of mixed Berber and Arab ancestry, especially one of the Saracen invaders of Spain in the eighth century or a descendant of the Saracens. For centuries before Texas was discovered, the Spaniards and Moors had warred, with captives being enslaved by both sides. The Spanish explorers brought Moorish slaves with them to the area we now know as Texas, and many of them stayed. Some became freedmen and won acceptance in the Spanish outposts. Victor Blanco, a man of color, was second alcalde of San Antonio in 1809





Juneteenth.com World Wide Celebration
History of Juneteenth, Juneteenth organizations, events calendar. 

Anniston, AL. Juneteenth Heritage Festival
An emancipation celebration in Zinn  Park. Includes info on program, Juneteenth history, and photos of past festivals.

Juneteenth Arkansas
Little Rock Riverfront Amphitheatre
        3PM-10PM  June 18th
Delta Cultural Center, Helena
        10AM-9PM  June 18, 2005

16th Annual Juneteeth, Pomona, Calfornia
Juneteenth America, Inc.
P.O. Box 1356
Ontario, CA 91762
(909) 621-9707   email:   jai@juneteenthamerica.us

Juneteenth in Jacksonville, FL.
Provides basic information about celebration scheduled for 6PM-10PM  June 17, 2005

Juneteenth in Ohio:
Opening Reception
June 14, 7-10 PM
Franklin Park Conservatory
Columbus, OH

Juneteenth, Washington, DC 
Washington Juneteenth 2005
June 15-19, 2005


National Association of Juneteenth Lineage
NAJL supports and provides resources for African American cultural awareness and community revitalization. Also supports and helps to organize festivals such as Juneteenth. 

What Is Juneteenth?
Information produced by the Baltimore City Paper

Message Boards

GenealogyForum.com African Ancestored Message Board

"Free at Last, Hallelujah, I'm free."

General Granger brought the news to Galveston:
The war is over!
The Emancipation Proclamation has declared,
All who live in bondage here shall be free.

Every year in the land of the Lone Star State,
Resounding from sea to sea,
the sons and daughters of those who were held
shout:, "Free at Last, Hallelujah, I'm free."

Leaving their shackles where they fell on the ground,
after 300 years of forced bondage;  hands bound,
descendants of Africa picked up their souls
departed for the nearest resting place .

Some went no further than the shack out back
hard ground for a bed  hard labor to stay alive
Them that stayed said, "This is my home
Even though I can't really call it my own."

Some went to the nearest place of worship
perhaps  to a clearing in the grove
or some hollow place in the underbrush
Said "Jesus, Thank you for delivering me".

Some ran as fast as they could
into the service of another man
Working for a meager pittance
one backbend short of being a slavehand.

Some went to the closest speakeasy
toasted the Union  and Lady Luck,
patted each other on their whip-marked backs,
drank themselves into oblivion.

Some swam the way of the river
following the Rio Grande or the up-flowing Mississip
Hastening to get as far away as they could
Thrusting their futures into unknown sanctuary.

Some went straight to the promise land,
heart couldn't take this earthly joy no more.
Some kept running forever
like a stone unable to grasp the firmity.

No matter where they went
They said, "I an where my soul wants to be".
I will always remember; I will never forget
Now I can shout  "Hallelujah, I"m free"

        ©Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

           June 2001 All Rights Reserved

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