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Juneteenth: a celebration of freedom

Today, June 19th is the holiday of Juneteenth.  It is also known as Freedom Day or Emanicpation Day.  You might have heard that US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson has called for the day to be named a national holiday.  For those who haven’t heard of it, the holiday was first celebrated in 1865 in the city of Galveston, Texas.  The Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves had been issued in 1862 and went into effect on January 1, 1865.  But the southern Confederates who controlled most the areas where slaves lived did not follow the Proclamation.  So the slaves were technically free, but their lives did not change.  In Galveston, this changed when Union General Gordon Granger took control of the city and the slaves were finally awarded their freedom on June 18, 1865.  The next day the freed slaves celebrated their emancipation with parties and jubilation.  From that day, June 19th became the basis for the celebration of Juneteenth.

The library has some great resources to learn more about the Civil War and slavery.  One of my favorites is Ken Burn’s Civil War documentary.

The Civil War directed by Ken Burns – Ken Burns’s Emmy Award-winning documentary brings to life America’s most destructive and defining conflict. The Civil War is the saga of celebrated generals and ordinary soldiers, a heroic and transcendent president and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one.

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