Republican Roots of Juneteenth
by Delta County GOP Chairman Dave Bradford
Yesterday, June 19th, was a holiday that many of us have little knowledge of. June 19th or Juneteenth as it is called is a combination of the words "June" and "nineteenth". The significance of this date is that it is the day in 1865 that the slaves in Texas were finally freed. The following entry on Juneteenth is from the online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica and was updated on May 25, 2021.
Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day, or Juneteenth Independence Day, is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, observed annually on June 19. Juneteenth is celebrated on Saturday, June 19, 2021.
In 1863, during the American Civil War, Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. More than two years would pass, however, before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance.
The following year, on June 19, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas. The original observances included prayer meetings and the singing of spirituals, and celebrants wore new clothes as a way of representing their newfound freedom. Within a few years, African Americans in other states were celebrating the day as well, making it an annual tradition. Celebrations have continued across the United States into the 21st century and typically include prayer and religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and picnics, and festivals with music, food, and dancing.
Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and a number of other states subsequently followed suit. The day is also celebrated outside the United States, with organizations in a number of countries using the day to recognize the end of slavery and to celebrate the culture and achievements of African Americans.
In Colorado Juneteenth is celebrated as a commemorative holiday. Organized celebrations are held in a number of cities including Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction. In Colorado Springs the holiday is described as a “…celebration for people of all races, nationalities and religions joining together as one body to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today.” So, now we know what it is and how it is celebrated. But let us not forget that the ending of slavery in the United States began with the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 by the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln. The Emancipation Proclamation only freed the slaves in the eleven southern slave-holding states (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia) that broke from the Union and formed the Confederacy. It was a bold effort fraught with risk, as the four other slave-holding states (Maryland, Missouri, Delaware, and Kentucky) that remained in the Union could have also seceded and joined the Confederacy. The issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation was intended as a military measure to keep the South from continuing to use slave labor to further the South’s war efforts. But it began the overall abolition of slavery in the United States as Congress began working on the 13th Amendment. The 13th Amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865 and ratified on December 6, 1865. For an amendment to the Constitution to be passed, it must be approved by ¾ of the state legislations. In 1865 there were 36 states so it took the approval of 27 states to ratify the 13th Amendment. Republicans dominated the U.S Congress, with over 70% of the House and Senate seats held by Republicans. The 13th Amendment reads as follows:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Every Juneteenth we commemorate the abolition of the horrible institution of slavery in the United States in 1865, let us remember that it happened because brave Americans lead by Republican leaders made it happen.
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