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Juneteenth: Our Country’s Other Independence Day

Juneteenth – A Short History

Recently, Truliant released a public statement against injustice and reaffirmed our values as an organization, which include that everyone is treated with integrity, respect and empathy. And it’s important that this statement does not just move farther down our social media feed and out of our thoughts. After the events that have taken place recently, we want to encourage everyone to dedicate some time to take a closer look at social injustice.

On Friday, June 19th, we closed our branches and offices early in observation of Juneteenth, a day of celebration in the African American community that marks our country’s second Independence Day. This was be the first year in Truliant’s history that we closed to observe this special day. In an effort to deepen our understanding as an organization, it’s an important step towards continuing to celebrate our rich Black history and heritage.

Honoring Juneteenth: Our Country’s Other Independence Day

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It is also known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. Although the Emancipation Proclamation came 2½ years earlier on January 1, 1863, many slave owners continued to hold their slaves captive after the announcement, so Juneteenth became a symbolic date representing African American freedom.

The announcement, General Order Number 3, reads as follows:
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 personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

The 1865 date is largely symbolic. The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, had legally freed slaves in Texas on January 1, 1863, almost 2½ years earlier. Even after the general order, some slave masters withheld the information from their slaves, holding them as slaves through one more harvest season.
Texans celebrated Juneteenth beginning in 1866, with community-centric events, such as parades, cookouts, prayer gatherings, historical and cultural readings, and musical performances. Over time, communities have developed their own traditions. Some communities purchased land for Juneteenth celebrations, such as Emancipation Park in Houston, TX. As families emigrated from Texas to other parts of the United States, they carried the Juneteenth celebrations with them.
On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth officially became a Texas state holiday. Al Edwards, a freshman state representative, put forward the bill, H.B. 1016, making Texas the first state to grant this emancipation celebration. Since then, 45 other states and the District of Columbia have also commemorated or recognized the day. Although Juneteenth is not a federal holiday, most states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation recognizing it as a holiday or observance. 

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 Information above regarding Juneteenth was provided by the Congressional Research Service.