Written by Vidhi Bhartiya, a grade 10 student.
America is up in arms today, painting a picture strikingly similar to June 1865.
It’s been almost 200 years since America first started burning with the flame for freedom, and that flame is spreading across the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave even today.
June 19th, however, marked a day of both triumph and mourning.
Although not a federal holiday, June 19th is considered a state holiday in over 45 states.
To truly understand the significance of June 19th in the hearts of Americans, we have to travel back in time to January 1st, 1863.
On the 1st of January, Abraham Lincoln declared slavery abolished in the American states by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. On paper, this was the day of celebration: the day that every African-American had been fighting for.
However, it was only on paper.
Even over 2 years after this proclamation, slave owners in states like Texas continued to hide slaves and hold them against their will.
The authorities had freed them in theory; in practice, the authorities had not.
During the two years until Juneteenth, the situation in America was reminiscent of the situation in America today.
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the end of both the Civil War and slavery. Since that day, the people of America have celebrated Juneteenth as a symbol of freedom from slavery and the beginning of equal opportunity. The Major General’s announcement said, “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 at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
With the situation as it is in the United States today, I hope June 19th brings for them the dawning of a brighter future with equal opportunities and rights for all, just as it did for their ancestors.