To Our Harrison Family,
On Sunday, the country recognizes Juneteenth, celebrated as the “unofficial” end of slavery.
Most Americans recognize the Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect on January 1, 1863, as the act that ended slavery in America. The reality is that the Emancipation Proclamation did not instantly free enslaved people. The proclamation only applied to states that were attempting to secede from the United States at the time, leaving slavery untouched in “loyal border states”.
As a loyal boarder state, Texas was not subject to the Emancipation Proclamation and throughout the Civil War there were more than 250,000 slaves in the state. It was not until the end of the war on April 9, 1865, that the federal government enforced the freeing of slaves in all states. On June 19, 1865, a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to do so. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance.
The following year, freedmen in Texas organized the first of what became the annual “Jubilee Day” on June 19th. In the ensuing decades, Juneteenth commemorations featured music, barbecues, prayer services and other activities. The tradition spread as enslaved Texans migrated to other parts of the country.
It is this sequence of events that Juneteenth has become the unofficial celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. The “official” act, which was the adoption of the 13th Amendment that formally abolished slavery, did not take place until December of 1865.
In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday; several states followed suit over the years. In June of 2021, Congress passed a resolution establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday.
In Harrison Township, we acknowledge the importance of recognizing this event in our country’s history. We do so by closing our municipal offices every June 19th, which occurs this year on Monday, June 20.
On a completely different note, on behalf of Deputy Mayor Julie DeLaurentis, Committeewoman Michelle Powell, Committeeman John Williams, and Committeeman Adam Wingate, we wish all fathers in the Hill a Happy Father’s Day!
Together for Harrison Township,