Juneteenth Day? What is it?
Juneteeth Day falls every year on the 19th of June to remember the day when General Gordon Granger made the official announcement in Galveston, Texas that the enslaved people in Texas were free from slavery.
More History on Juneteenth Day?
President Abraham Lincoln made the official emancipation proclamation on Jan 1st, 1863, almost two and half years before General Gordon Granger's announcement in Texas. This earlier proclamation implied that the newly freed 250000+ enslaved people were already freed for more than two years, but never knew about it.
Why was this delay for the news to reach Texas?
As per historical literary reports, though the primary reason for the delay is not known, there were two primary reasons cited. The two being that,
a. the slave owners deliberately withheld information, when means of mass communication channels were limited,
b. the messenger who was sent to deliver the news was killed, though it makes us wonder why no other messenger was sent for two and half years (if the previously sent messenger was killed) to deliver the news since the proclamation announcement.
What happened next?
What is called as the scatter, most freed people preferred not to stay with their previous "masters", even though the announcement made by the General required the owners to consider the freed people to be employees rather than slaves, and to pay them appropriately. This movement of freed people from their owners was called "the scatter" movement.
Did all the enslaved people were freed right away?
- Even after the General's announcement, as per historians' reports, it took as late as 1868 for all the freed individuals to be completely freed when the horse thief, Alex Simpson, was hanged, thus relieving his slaves from his control.
- Other reports cite deliberate suppression of information by the slave owners until the end of the harvest season, thus delaying freedom until the year, 1867, for some of them.
- The more gruesome reports suggest that some of the owners still believed that the enslaved people were still their "belongings" and did not prefer to let go of them taking extreme actions in the process.
- Texas became the first state to announce Juneteenth day, an official legal holiday on Jan 1st, 1980
- As of now, except for four states, 46 states recognize this day as an holiday. Those states being the two Dakotas, Montana, and Hawaii
What is my thought on Juneteenth Day?
When a posting in social media platform on a company in the morning could generate a mail that gets sent through the government postal service directed to that individual recommending for an irrelevant job that completely mismatched the profile and educational background, it makes me wonder whether all these celebrations to mark any day as an emancipation day is just a namesake.
When there are reports after reports of mass surveillance, selling personal information without one's knowledge and complete lack of appreciation for one's privacy, all the celebrations promoted lately appears to be more of a marketing strategy to make another day as a day for mass commoditization of commercialization.