June 19, 2004 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Juneteenth is today, celebrating the emancipation of all slaves in Texas, on June 19th, 1865, 2 1/2 years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. With its lighthearted name and tragicomic origins, Juneteenth appeals to many Americans by celebrating the end of slavery without dwelling on its legacy. Juneteenth, celebrators say, is Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday without the grieving. It's become a widely celebrated holiday among African-Americans (but not even known by many whites), and Fourteen states have made it official--is it time for it to go national? Find an event in your state or country
posted by amberglow (12 comments total)
whoa, i never realized this was a texas thing, neat. it's much more upbeat than MLK Jr.'s birthday, more parades and dancing and less crying.
posted by rhyax at 12:36 PM on June 19, 2004

Anybody in San Francisco: There is a lot of parade activity on Turk and Fillmore . . . I heard a ton of unusually loud fire truck sirens that woke me up from my Saturday late sleep-in. At first I was semi panicked that something really bad was happening, but then I heard drums and then some rap and I realized, "Oh, Juneteenth." Watching it from my window is neat though.
posted by Boydrop at 1:02 PM on June 19, 2004

Is it time to go national
Yes. But there are already to many damn holidays, so we'll have to get rid of an existing national holiday to make room for it. My vote is to get rid of Presidents Day or Christmas. I mean, the only reason Christmas is a national holiday is because the ACLU has never really gone after it in earnest, and the day they do, you can be sure that there will be a vacancy in the national holiday calendar. Presidents Day absurdly conflates Lincoln with Washington, and disgraces the memory of both. Labor Day can go. So can MLK day, for that matter -- its celebration has never risen above the idiotically lugubrious.
posted by Faze at 2:25 PM on June 19, 2004

We've always had a Juneteenth celbration in Denver, although it's been fading recently, and it's down to one day this year, today. And it's not listed on the official Juneteenth site at all.
posted by kozad at 2:35 PM on June 19, 2004

Not everyone in Texas sees Juneteenth as a celebration

I just came from the San Francisco Juneteenth, where there was da funk, Tilt-A-Whirl & fried catfish. And don't tell anyone, but the Shirelles & the Drifters are playing at it tomorrow!
posted by obloquy at 5:53 PM on June 19, 2004

that article is pretty crappy obloquy, just for you people who won't click the link, unlike what the inflammatory headline would make you believe the actual article is about lawmakers mixed acceptance of Juneteenth becoming a state holiday when the law was passed in 1979 while at that time MLK day was not yet recognized.

yeah, i hate texas too! *foam at mouth with anger*
posted by rhyax at 7:04 PM on June 19, 2004

I'd still like to know why it took so damn long for Texas to know of, or tell everyone about, emancipation--were they trying to get more work out of the people they owned? (which is disgusting, but not entirely surprising)
posted by amberglow at 7:12 PM on June 19, 2004

Er, amberglow, remember that Civil War thing? Most of the slaveowning residents of Texas were on the side of the Confederacy, so understandably enough they didn't think that Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation applied to them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:34 PM on June 19, 2004

Texas was the most distant State in the Confederacy from all the action and surrendering going on in Virginia. It took time for the news to travel - you can imagine that at that point, the mail system was not working very well.

The last battle of the Civil War took place in Texas as well, more than a month after Lee's surrender. Neither the Union or the Confederate soldiers knew that the war was over.
posted by thewittyname at 6:46 AM on June 20, 2004

"Juneteenth marks the day Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston in 1865 to share news of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves two years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863."

"Although no slaves were actually freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it did lead to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The 13th Amendment became a law on December 18, 1865, and ended slavery in all parts of the United States."
posted by thomcatspike at 10:03 AM on June 21, 2004

posted by amberglow at 11:52 AM on June 21, 2004

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