hours minutes seconds
Given the current political environment of our state and nation, all individuals, associations, businesses, religious organizations, government agents and schools are reminded that the fundamental purpose of Juneteenth is to celebrate the advancement of human equity. Appearance in the Denton Juneteenth Parade will be equivalent to an affirmation of that doctrine and an endorsement of the on-going pursuit of equity and inclusion. Participation by any entity that has acted against inclusion or human equality in any manner would be considered an unappreciated mockery of the holiday and celebration. Therein, participation in the Denton Juneteenth Parade by such entities is not desired. CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE PARADE.
In 2022, an annual contest to select a design for Denton County’s Texas Emancipation Day (a.k.a., Juneteenth) flag. Design proposals are submitted by grade school students. The first winner was a third grade student at Rockbrook Elementary School in Lewisville, Texas. The flag was named after the winner and was displayed at many of the Juneteenth activities in Denton County Texas. Below are sample photos.
Juneteenth 101 – Popular Myths and Forgotten Facts
By D. J. Norman-Cox
What is Juneteenth?
June 19 (a.k.a., Juneteenth), is the day Americans celebrate the end of lawful slavery in the United States. Period. Much too often, that simple explanation is revised to, “the day slavery ended”, a definition wholly incorrect. Lawful slavery in the United States ended in December of 1865, not on June 19th. The exact December date is debatable.
On December 6, 1865, Georgia became the last state needed to ratify the 13th amendment which outlawed slavery nationally. On December 18th, the United States constitution was officially amendment by the Secretary of State. Once the 13th amendment became a reality, states and parts of states exempted from the Emancipation Proclamation were required to emancipate their enslaved people. So, did slavery end when the amendment ratified, or was it when the constitution was amended? Pick a day, either day, but not June 19th.
Kentucky and Delaware did not outlaw slavery prior to the 13th Amendment. Therefore, they were the last two states forced to abolish slavery, not Texas. Texas was merely the last of the ten “states in rebellion” to emancipate enslaved Africans. Furthermore, even in Texas where Juneteenth began, only the enslaved Africans in or near Galveston were emancipated on June 19th. Statewide enforcement of the proclamation required a multi-week military campaign. Even that wasn’t enough.
For many of Galveston’s freedmen, freedom was temporary. Newspapers in Houston and Austin reported that on the same day they were freed, some of Galveston’s freedmen were rounded up and forced back into labor, pending arrival of the Freedmen’s Bureau. The bureau arrived in September – two months later.
Unquestionably, June 19th is a significant Texas holiday, but historical facts and popular beliefs do not agree. According to current Texas history schoolbooks, slaveowners “voluntarily complied” with the Emancipation Proclamation after learning about it, two years and six months after it was issued. No part of that is true.
1) Had slave owners “voluntarily” complied, armed military enforcement would not have been necessary.
2) News of the Emancipation Proclamation was not late arriving in Texas. The document was frequently and publicly discussed among Texans beginning September 13, 1862 or before. On that day, a newspaper in northeast Texas announced Lincoln’s intent to proclaim “universal emancipation.” While many or possibly most of Texas’ chattel may not have known about Lincoln’s proclamation, what they knew was irrelevant. Leaving their owners without permission would not make them freedmen; they would be runaways, subject to capture, punishment, and re-enslavement.
What’s the deal in Oklahoma?
The actual last enslaved Africans to be freed were in Oklahoma. On April 28, 1866, two Native American tribes in what became Oklahoma, signed treaties with the United States government that required all enslaved people to be freed.
“ARTICLE 2. The Choctaws and Chickasaws hereby covenant and agree that henceforth neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise than in punishment of crime whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, in accordance with laws applicable to all members of the particular nation, shall ever exist in said nations.” This was necessary because the territory controlled by the Choctaws and Chickasaw was not addressed in the Emancipation Proclamation or the 13th Amendment.
So why is June 19 a national holiday?
The answer is a bit delicate to explain. Texans have celebrated Emancipation Day (a.k.a. Juneteenth) since 1866. Over the years, the celebration was transported outside of the state by well-intentioned but misinformed celebrants. Celebration advocates primarily outside of Texas falsely assumed that Texans were last to be emancipated because emancipation in Texas occurred 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. FACT: All ten applicable states acknowledged the Emancipation Proclamation 2.5 years after it was written, not just Texas. Florida was emancipated one month before Texas; Louisiana emancipated two weeks before Texas; etc. Texas was last of the rebellious ten, but during the war, there were fifteen slaveholding states. Five were exempted by the proclamation.
Armed with the false belief that Texas was last of ALL fifteen, a national campaign was launched to commemorate the end of slavery based on Texas’ emancipation date. Vermont could have argued for their date since they were first to emancipate; Missouri could have bragged that the people in that state voluntarily and honorably elected to end slavery. Other states had other reasons to promote their emancipation date, but everyone deferred to Texas supposedly for solidarity, but more plausibly due to being misinformed.
Our national emancipation holiday is incredibly important, but since it was not attached to the actual day that slaver ended nationwide, any state’s Emancipation Day would have been acceptable, including May 8th (Alabama’s day); May 20 (Florida’s day); December 6 (Kentucky and Delaware’s day); or any other state’s Emancipation Day. With that in mind, it is important to know that the national holiday celebrates emancipation regardless of where, when, or how it happened. Attention continues to be focused on Galveston simply because June 19 is Texas’ Emancipation Day. If another state’s day had been selected, attention would have been disproportionately focused on that state. Got it? Cool!
What Really Happened?
On June 5th, the United States Navy arrived in Galveston and raised the flag, symbolically acknowledging the Civil War’s end and the Union’s victory. Two weeks later, (June 16, 1865), ships transporting army troops began arriving in Galveston. On June 19th, General Granger arrived to begin occupation of Texas. Part of that task was to conduct a multi-week campaign to enforce statewide compliance with the Emancipation Proclamation. Reenactments of that historic emancipation moment – though theatrically impressive – are factually incorrect.
- 1) Claiming General Orders #3 a new announcement is incorrect. The message embodied in that order was published in at least one Texas newspaper, two days before it was issued in Galveston.
- 2) General Orders #3, 4 and 5 were ordered by Major General Granger, but issued by the person who signed them, Major Emory. Only orders #1 and 2 were issued and signed by Granger. That means Emory announced and/or posted Orders No. 3. Otherwise, his signature wasn’t necessary, given that he was Granger’s secretary.
- 3) The word “Juneteenth” was not slave vernacular. The term was coined decades after the original celebration.
- 4) Whereas, Galveston was the only town emancipated on the 19th, other Texas towns initially had no reason to celebrate that date. Instead, they celebrated the anniversary of their respective emancipation dates. In October 1868, the Texas supreme court ruled that June 19 was the day that lawful slavery ended in Texas. Beginning the next year (1869), emancipation celebrations outside of Galveston moved to June 19th.
It is the opinion of Juneteenth University that the many inaccuracies that encompass the Juneteenth holiday were fundamental to its survival the eventual national status. The facts of emancipation in Texas are neither engaging, inspiring, or intriguing. On the other hand, the “late news” myth is filled with fascination. There is no reason why fact and myth cannot coexist. Christmas has two explanations; so can Juneteenth. Therein, enjoy the myths, but know the facts. Celebrate emancipation joyously.
Welcome to Juneteenth University
Juneteenth University is a Texas-based, not-for-profit corporation. The organization’s mission is to “emancipate minds” from inaccuracy by encouraging research and promoting fact-based appreciation of Juneteenth National Independence Day and Texas Emancipation Day.