I believe that all I can do is take on some bite-sized pieces. This often feels to me as though I'm ducking more urgent matters, but there are plenty of far more amplified voices to take those on.
Today is June 19th, a holiday celebrated particularly by African Americans in Texas. As I discussed in my recent post about Lee's surrender at Appomattox, the event didn't end the war. Other confederate units kept fighting. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, following the Union victory at Antietam. It was effective as of January 1, 1863. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865.
But of course the proclamation had no effect where the slaveholders still ruled. When Union general Gordon Granger entered Galveston on June 19, he found that slavery was still practiced. In fact, word of the proclamation had never even reached Texas. Granger then issued this statement:
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.It took a while before the slaves generally became free in Texas, and then it didn't last with the rise of the Klan. But in 1866 the freed slaves began to celebrate Juneteenth, as much as a deliberate affront to their former masters as a celebration. Let us always remember the country's two irredeemable original sins, slavery and the Native American genocide. Right now, we're going backwards.