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Part Two: The rest of the short story about the U.S. freedom order in Texas

Editor’s note: The first part of this blog was published on the Good Genes Genealogy sites two days ago. Here is the rest of the preview of our upcoming Juneteenth audiobook.


General Granger was assigned a difficult task that became worse for him after delivering the freedom message in Texas. According to historians, General Granger “became extremely unpopular among many whites in the state of Texas. He was blackballed and ostracized by many Whites, so much so, that after only six months in command of the Department of Texas, Granger was relieved of his command on August 6, 1865. On October 31, 1865, he was placed in command of the District of New Mexico.”

General Granger’s health also declined after his transfer in command. Source: https://seattlemedium.com/gen-gordon-granger-the-man-behind-the-juneteenth-message-of-freedom/

Texas came a long way from being the last state to recognize the Emancipation Proclamation to becoming the first state in 1980 to declare Juneteenth as an official holiday. With the determined, multi-year lobbying effort by famous Texan Opal Lee, in 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the nation’s official holiday of Juneteenth.

Several miles north of Galveston near the Navasota River in Groesbeck, Limestone County, Texas, General Granger’s Order No. 3 reached the homestead. The Pleasant Retreat Plantation was owned by Logan Stroud, a slave owner who inherited the property upon the death of his father, Ethan. The father and son had acquired plantations that resulted in 5,000 acres used for raising cotton, corn, oats, wheat, hogs, sheep and it served as a ranch. At the time of Civil War, the younger Stroud was the largest slave holder in Limestone County, owning more than 100 slaves. It was recorded that he had 150 slaves on the day now known as Juneteenth.

According to the property records, the Emancipation Proclamation was read in Limestone County from the porch of the Pleasant Retreat Plantation, on Saturday, June 19, 1865.

On Saturday, June 19, 1865, in Limestone County, Texas, plantation owner Logan Stroud stood on the front porch of this house to tell more than 150 of his enslaved workers that they were free. | Photo: Historic American Building Survey. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs

Newly freed Blacks in Texas set the tone for celebrating the early days of June 19th with recognitions of their former lives and the memories of their loved ones who endured enslavement. However, there were some Blacks who thought the Juneteenth and Emancipation Day celebrations should put the awful days of slavery behind and instead, look forward with celebrations of hope and aspirations. During the years of Jim Crow, Juneteenth celebrations were confined to the Black communities from coast to coast in the United States.

The photos (see below) are from Mrs. Grace Murray Stephenson, a lady who recorded her June 19, 1900 day of celebration. She sold her diary to the San Francisco Chronicle, which printed her memories.



While awaiting the arrival of the Good Genes Genealogy’s Juneteenth audiobook, learn more about the June 19th holiday and the other “Black” holiday, August 1st. Check out our e-book that is available on all book buy sites.

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Texas and the origins of Juneteenth

The word came through an in-person delivered order from the United States Government on June 19, 1865

Years before the state of Texas received official notification that its enslaved people were free due to the U.S. Emancipation Proclamation, all other rebellious Confederate states complied with the presidential order.

The in-person announcement from U.S. Brigadier General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, came on June 19, 1865.

U.S. Brigadier General Gordon Granger, Galveston, Texas,  June 19, 1865

 A month earlier, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi division, surrendered on May 26, 1865.  Days later, on June 2, 1865, General Smith officially laid down his arms at Galveston.  He immediately fled the country for Mexico and Cuba as General Smith was deemed treasonous for not following earlier orders to surrender.

While General Smith was slow to surrender his command in Texas, he was accompanied by his valet, a mixed-race slave who was owned by General Smith’s father and believed to be the military leader’s half-brother. Once free, former slave Alexander Hanson Dames, attended two historically black institutions of higher education and earned a degree as a medical doctor. Dames became a well-respected physician whose accomplishments earned him the first statue in Jacksonville, Florida that honored a black man. The statue is situated next to General Smith.

It was a long time coming for Blacks enslaved in Texas who were forced to endure two-and-a-half years more of plantation rules than their counterparts. The General document was welcomed by slaves, yet its last two sentences is deemed controversial by some historians:

“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.”

General Granger’s troops marched through Galveston while some read the General Order No. 3. Their first stop was at the Union Army Headquarters at the Osterman Building.

Osterman Building, left, 1865

Next, they marched to the 1861 Custom House and courthouse. The last reading of General Order No. 3 was at what was referred to as “the Negro Church on Broadway” that is known today as Reedy Chapel-AME Church4.


To learn more about Juneteenth, pick up a copy of the Good Genes Genealogy e-book:

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In honor of Juneteenth: Pick up an e-book to learn about the other “first” Black holiday

Good Genes Genealogy Services’ first e-book describes August 1st and Juneteenth as Black Holidays

Our first e-book about African American historical and ancestry achievements, is highlighted with lively research about Juneteenth and August First. In honor of this year’s celebration of the nation’s official holiday, Juneteenth, pick up a copy from your favorite online store.

“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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection therefore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.” – U.S. Brigadier General Gordon Granger, Galveston, Texas,  June 19, 1865  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#20 How to celebrate this special Juneteenth

Surprise! U.S. Senate unanimously passes the move to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The U.S. House also passed the measure

It’s been a long time.

Juneteenth has been an official holiday in Texas for 40 years and in 46 other states around the nation. Private and public celebrations have in full steam a lot longer, beginning with the first dancing of singing as the end of slavery was marked through voice and by paper degree beginning with the pronouncement by a U.S. general on June 19, 1865.


Our advice from Good Genes Genealogy is:

  1. Begin your family’s traditions for Juneteenth celebrations.
  2. Engage your elders. It is a time to pause and hear their stories. Record them.
  3. Review and revise your activities this year in preparation for 2022.
  4. See the church flyer below for one of my favorite celebrations in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
  5. Following the flyer and history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has a history of spiritual, economic, liberation and uplifting leadership in the circle of African African church “hood.”
  6. My sorority’s social media flyer wraps up this blog.

The A.M.E. Church History:
The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a unique and glorious history. It is unique in that it is the first major religious denomination in the Western world that had its origin over sociological rather than theological beliefs and differences.
The immediate cause of the organization of the A. M. E. Church was the fact that members of the St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia Pa., in 1787 segregated its colored members from its white communicants. The Blacks were sent to the gallery of the Church, to use the venerable Richard Allen’s own words. One Sunday as the Africans, as they were called, knelt to pray outside of their segregated area they were actually pulled from their knees and told to go to a place which had been designated for them. This added insult to injury and upon completing their prayer, they went out and formed the Free African Society, and from this Society came two groups: The Episcopalians and the Methodists. The leader of the Methodist group was Richard Allen. Richard Allen desired to implement his conception of freedom of worship and desired to be rid of the humiliation of segregation, especially in church.
Richard Allen learned that other groups were suffering under the same conditions. After study and consultation, five churches came together in a General Convention which met in Philadelphia, Pa., April 9-11, 1816, and formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The name African Methodist came naturally, as Negroes at that time were called Africans and they followed the teaching of the Methodist Church as founded by John Wesley. The young Church accepted the Methodist doctrine and Discipline almost in its entirety.
Visit www.amecnet.org or www.ame-church.com for more information about the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Marvin L. Crawford, M. D., M. Div.
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Presiding Prelate – 6th Episcopal District
Presiding Elder Rev. Dr. Thomas L. Bess – Atlanta East District


How to Celebrate Juneteenth as a Family

By Wendy Wisner Published on May 19, 2021Print 

family eating outside
 Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Over the past few years, many of us have become more aware of the racial injustices that have plagued Black Americans for centuries. The protests against police brutality in the summer of 2020 showed that more Americans than ever are looking for ways to support Black civil rights, to learn more about the history of racial injustice, and to find ways to participate in making the world a more equitable place.https://c19ccf989e30f1fcd0147dcd03eb6661.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Juneteenth—a national day of Black American independence—is a wonderful opportunity to engage in this movement. Whether Juneteenth is something your family has celebrated for years, or if this holiday is new to you, there are many ways to get the whole family involved.

After all, working toward a more equitable world starts by educating our children from the earliest ages, and giving them ample opportunities to integrate the fight for racial justice into their lives and traditions.

What Juneteenth Is and Why We Celebrate It

Even though many of us first heard of Juneteenth over the past few years, it’s a holiday that has been celebrated for over 150 years. Juneteenth marks the independence of Black Americans from the chains of slavery. It’s a holiday of remembrance, freedom, celebration, and a sober reminder of the work ahead to continue eradicating racism in our country.

What Is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth has its origins in American history and marks Black emancipation from slavery. On June 19, 1865, those who are believed to be the last slaves in America were freed in Galveston, Texas. Although President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, the law was hard to enforce while the war was still raging.1

Southern slaveholders continued the practice of slavery in spite of Lincoln’s decree, and the Union army had no way to stop them until they had gained control over Southern territory. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, when General Lee surrendered and the war was winding down, the last of the enslaved people were finally freed.

The day that the slaves were freed in Galveston, Texas was a day of profound joy and celebration. Over the years that followed, Black Americans began to celebrate this day as a day of freedom. Traditional ways of celebrating Juneteenth include barbecuing, other outdoor cookouts, prayers, fishing, and sports. Juneteenth was, and continues to be, about education and remembering the historical significance of the emancipation movement.1

Why Is It Called Juneteenth?

The world “Juneteenth” is a combination of “June” and the word “nineteenth,” the date that Juneteenth falls on. The holiday is also referred to as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Jubilee Day,” “Emancipation Day,” and “Freedom Day.”

When Is It Celebrated?

 Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th of each year.What Is An Anti-Racism Journey?

Is Juneteenth a National Holiday?

As awareness of Juneteenth has increased over the past few years, more states are recognizing the date as a holiday. Texas was the first state to do this, in 1980. As of June 2020, 47 states, plus the District of Columbia, had declared Juneteenth a local holiday. However, it is still not recognized nationwide.2

Despite the lack of a nationwide observance, in recent years private companies have started to recognize the importance of Juneteenth by giving their employees the day off to celebrate. In 2020, major companies like Twitter, Nike, Best Buy, and Target made Juneteenth a paid holiday.2Talking About Race: Being Mindful of Our Language

Celebrating Juneteenth As a Family

Traditional Juneteenth celebrations are usually outside, owing to the warm summer weather, and include cookouts, sports, parades, festivals, musical performances, and more. Juneteenth is also about supporting Black Americans, buying from Black businesses, learning Black history, and staying up-to-date on the struggles toward racial justice that continue to happen in this country.2

When it comes to celebrating Juneteenth as a family, there are so many creative and simple ways to participate. It’s never too early to have discussions about our children about race—in fact, the earlier we can broach these important subjects with our kids, the better. If we strive to raise our kids from an early age to understand racism and racial oppression, the better and more compassionate a world we will all have.

Be Wary of Cultural Appropriation

As you celebrate Juneteenth with your family, you should be aware of the concept of “cultural appropriation,” the practice of adopting race-specific cultural practices as your own without proper attribution or credit and in ways that further exacerbate racial oppression.

For example, there is nothing wrong with celebrating Juneteenth as a non-Black person at home or with others. Supporting Black organizations and educating yourself about Black history and culture is also great. But it might be less appropriate for a non-Black person to partake in Juneteenth customs like wearing African-themed clothing or performing traditional African dances.

You can use your judgment in instances like these, and you can also sensitively consult a Black friend or colleague if you are not sure whether what you are doing might be considered cultural appropriation.Acknowledging Your Own Racism

 

Family-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth

Participate in a Local Juneteenth Celebration

There have always been Juneteenth celebrations, often held in public parks, in backyards, and as part of local festivals. But as the holiday has gained popularity, there are more ways to celebrate locally than ever.

Major cities like New YorkPhiladelphiaAtlanta, and Detroit have already posted schedules for their Juneteenth parades and festivals. Check your own town or city’s website to see what is planned, or create your own event. Visit the Worldwide Celebration page at Juneteenth.com to learn about past events and see what’s coming up this year.

Have A Black History Readathon

Now, more than ever, there are so many books geared toward children that explain racism, Black history, Black culture, and more. So go to your local library, order online, or visit your local bookstore (a Black-owned bookstore, if possible) and get reading. 

Some of our favorites include:

For ages 0-5:

For ages 6-10:

For older kids:

Have an Outdoor Cookout or Barbeque

Food is a big part of Juneteenth, so don’t skimp on this! June 19th is usually perfect weather for barbequing, grilling, and enjoying the great outdoors while you partake in delicious foods.

Traditional Juneteenth foods include fruits like strawberries and watermelons, veggies like beets and yams, as well as black-eyed peas and cornbread. Brisket, pulled pork, and baked beans with meat have also traditionally topped the menu. Red foods and drinks, like hibiscus tea and hot sauce, are customary Juneteenth fare. The color red is thought to symbolize strength and resourcefulness.3

Donate to an Organization that Supports Black Lives

Organizations that promote Black causes, including organizing protests, supporting criminal justice for Black individuals, and promoting issues that uphold racial equality, are often grassroots groups that need monetary support. There is no better way to celebrate Juneteenth than to donate to Black causes.

Your family can discuss the causes that feel dear to your hearts, and you can get your children involved by helping you raise money to donate. How about a Juneteenth lemonade stand or yard sale? These are wonderful ways to raise awareness while simultaneously raising money for a good cause.

Here are some organizations you might consider donating to:

Shop at Black-Owned Businesses

Shopping small and making your shopping purchases more inclusive shouldn’t be something that only happens once a year. But Juneteenth is a great day to splurge a little more than usual on Black-owned businesses. And there are many Black-owned businesses that cater specifically to kids’ items or items for families.

Here are some of our favorite family-friendly Black-owned businesses.

Books:

Children’s Apparel and Accessories:

Food:

Beauty and Cosmetics:

Listen to the Emancipation Proclamation

Juneteenth wouldn’t be possible without the emancipation of slaves, which officially happened on January 1, 1863, when President Lincoln gave his famous “Emancipation Proclamation” speech. You can listen to this historic speech as a family on Audiobooks.com or on YouTube.

You can use this opportunity to put this moment into historical context for your children, emphasizing that this speech was just the beginning and that the struggle toward a more equitable world for Black Americans is ongoing to this day.

Absorb Some Black Art and Culture

These days, there are so many incredible Black screenwriters, writers, actors, musicians, and more for us to support and enjoy. Many are perfect for children, too.

Here are some of our favorite family-friendly music, movies, and TV shows to stream:

Children’s music:

Movies for the whole family:

TV for the youngest kids:

  • “Bino and Fino” (Tubi)
  • “Esme and Roy” (Hulu)
  • “Motown Magic” (Netflix)
  • “Nella the Princess Knight” (Nick Jr)
  • “Super Sema” (YouTube)

TV for older kids and tweens:

  • “Cousins for Life” (Amazon Prime)
  • “Lab Rats” (Disney+)
  • “Mama K’s Team 4” (Netflix)
  • “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble: Black Panther’s Quest” (Amazon)
  • “Raven’s Home” (Disney)

TV for the whole family:

  • “Black-ish” (Hulu)
  • “Black Lightning” (Netflix)
  • “Grown-ish” (Hulu)
  • “Kenan” (Hulu)
  • “Marvel’s Runaways” (Hulu)

Help Make Juneteenth a National Holiday

Activists have been pushing for decades to make Juneteenth a national day of celebration. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic congresswoman from Texas, has repeatedly introduced resolutions that would designate Juneteenth as a full-blown federal holiday. Although the Congress has passed resolutions recognizing the importance of this day, these are just ceremonial and have not resulted in a federal holiday with paid leave for workers.

The most recent legislation was introduced by Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) but it has not yet come up for a vote in the Senate.

You can help by spreading the word, helping raise awareness, and by signing a petition asking for Juneteenth to receive federal recognition.5 Ways You Can Support the Black Lives Matter Movement

A Word from Verywell

Americans celebrate their freedom from England every July 4th, but for many Americans, this holiday is less relatable and doesn’t reflect the injustices that enslaved Black Americans suffered on American soil for years.

Juneteenth reminds us of all of that struggle, and the important progress we have made as a nation since then. It celebrates the bravery and perseverance of Black Americans throughout history and today.

But it’s also an important reminder that the struggle toward racial justice in America is far from over. The Center for American Progress estimates that African American households on average own only one-tenth the wealth of the average white American household, and this inequality has been widening since the Great Recession.4

A Harvard study found that Black people are three times as likely as whites to be killed in a police encounter.5 We can only right these wrongs if we remain committed to the fight for justice and equality.

By remembering the last slaves’ emancipation on the original Juneteenth, we can take pride in how far we’ve come, and recommit ourselves to the ongoing journey forward.The Impact of Race and Racism on Eating Disorders.

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