Friday, June 19, 2020

Juneteenth - Our Ancestors Knew

Phoneix Tribune, 18 Jun 1921, Chronically America, LOC. 
Whereas the 1921 Race Riots of Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, OK have always been remembered as a day of mourning,  Emancipation Day, celebrated as Juneteenth, has always been a day of festivities for ex-slaves, their descendants, free-coloreds, and allied communities.


So after a week of repeated texts, calls, and emails a3Genealogy offers a rather standard answer to the question "Why didn't I know?" Our response basically states "Juneteenth is part of America's well-known history celebrated by ex-slave descendants.  Depending on one's cultural, social, and educational structure it may (or may not) have been taught in your schools." 

Why one did not know of it, is one of those phenomenons where history is magically erased. This is particularly the case, because our ancestors knew of it.  The following 1898 letter printed in the Atlanta Constitution, 15 May 1898, pg 16 is one early example.
The confusion was understandable.  The Emancipation Proclamation was signed 1 Jan 1863.  So why were the "negroes" celebrating on the 19th of June?  Easy answer.  Texan slaves, the last to know they were free,  did not get word that they had been free until two years later June 1865.  In business we call this a "slow roll-out."

White Allies in Communities Participated
"White visitors were invited to partake of dinner, and all accepting, were served in accordance with their supposed choice at a separate table. Harmony prevailed..."
As mentioned, this is America's history. This 29 Jun 1886 newspaper article recapping the Webberville festivities in the Austin American Statesman not only provides us with the going-ons  of early celebrations (nowadays it's usually bbq, speakers, and community gatherings); but the author clearly wanted to acknowledge the White attendees: "White visitors were invited to partake of dinner, and all accepting, were served in accordance with their supposed choice at a separate table. Harmony prevailed..."
Dallas Express, 7 Jun 1919,  pg 14
Newspapers.com












For further research, why not use contemporary newspapers articles about your area.  How did your ancestors acknowledge Juneteenth and celebrate the Emancipation of slaves since 1866? This 1893 Galveston Daily News article gives a sweeping overview of how emancipation was observed across Texas. (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53495386/account-of-grim-past-during-1865/#)


Happy Juneteeth. Stay pandemic safe and celebrate!
Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy@gmail.com

No comments:

Post a Comment