Often Americans are surprised when they are learn Abraham Lincoln’s Sept. 22, 1862, Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves was to free the slaves in the combatant (Southern) states and not those living in the Northern states. So Lincoln’s proclamation was a limited one. It was only shortly after the end of the Civil War that a presidential decree was issued freeing all slaves.
It didn’t happen until June 19, 1865, known as Juneteenth. It’s also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, commemorating the day when many blacks living in Texas became the last slaves to be notified they were now absolutely free and citizens of the United States of America.
On June 19, 1865, Gen. Gordon Granger’s third order of business directed his soldiers to spread the word to all African Americans in Texas that they were now free and equal citizens of the United States of America.
His General Order No. 3 noted: “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 and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”
Juneteenth is the oldest known African American celebration; it has been a tradition since the late 1800s. As of this year, 39 states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or as a state day of observance.
So today, think of it not only as Father’s Day, but also as a day to support absolute equality of rights for all.