5 Myths About Juneteenth

  • Juneteenth commemorates the day the United States' last African-American slave was emancipated in 1865 in Galveston, Texas. It takes place every June 19--and with ordinary citizens around the world marching for racial justice, it may be more important than ever. Courtesy ofThe Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/juneteenth-holiday-five-myths/2020/06/18/4c19fff8-b0e1-11ea-8758-bfd1d045525a_story.html), here are five commonly held myths about the day of remembrance:
    • Myth: Texas slaves didn't learn they were freed until 1865. Fact: Thanks to the speedy telegraph, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was common knowledge by the time Granger arrived in Galveston. The real reason people were still enslaved when Union troops arrived there was because of local leaders; the Texas Confederate constitution prohibited release from slavery. Lincoln’s orders were only enforced there when federal soldiers finally arrived.
    • Myth: African Americans have always celebrated Juneteenth. Fact: Juneteenth celebrations largely died out during Jim Crow. Some historians theorize segregation made the holiday too difficult to observe. But they say the civil rights movement brought national recognition to it later. 
    • Myth: Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in the U.S.Fact: By the time Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued orders to free enslaved people in Texas on June 19, 1865, slavery had technically been abolished two years earlier by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. And Granger's Juneteenth-issued orders issued applied only to Texas. Slavery didn’t end in states like Kentucky and Delaware--which hadn’t seceded and therefore weren’t covered by Lincoln’s proclamation--until December 18, 1865, when the 13th Amendment was adopted.
    • Myth: Former slaves took Juneteenth across the South.Fact: Emancipation celebrations were commonly observed all around America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries--and, for the record, the Great Migration began around 50 years after the Civil War ended, and it didn’t involve only Texans.
    • Myth: Juneteenth is the nation's oldest celebration of emancipation. Fact: The real oldest celebration of the end of slavery started taking place in Gallipolis, Ohio. That celebration began on September 22, 1863, a year after President Abraham Lincoln signed the preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.