Forever Free | Juneteenth | 2023

By: Christina Bein

June 19, 1865, commemorates the true enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation to abolish slavery across the United States. President Abraham Lincoln declared the abolition of slavery on January 1, 1863. 

Texas was the last Confederate state to receive the news that those once enslaved are now free. Slavery in the Americas (North and South America) has a long history that recorded documentation shows it starting with with the indigenous people around 1492. 

Over 5 million Native Americans were enslaved before the slave trade for this racial group ended in 1750. It ended because of the decreasing numbers of indigenous people lost to illness and death, and there was increasing importation of African slaves to the Americas, about 12.5 million African people by 1880. 

All the while, between 1492-1750, Africans were being kidnapped from Africa and traded into slavery in Europe with a smaller amount that could sail to the Americas. 

Slavery with these racial groups (in North America) lasted for four centuries, ending with what we know in the U.S. to be Juneteenth.

Texas was formerly recognized as part of Mexico. 

It had become an independent country between 1836-1845, and by the end of 1845, Texas became the 28th state of the U.S. On March 2, 1861, Texas seceded and joined the Confederacy which included: Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South, Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. 

The Confederacy was never recognized as a sovereign nation, and it lasted from 1861-1865 on the basis of fighting to keep slavery legal. 

There is no conclusive answer as to why it took so long for Texas to receive this proclamation. 

Some historians believe it to be due to Texas being a Confederate state until General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army General Ulysses S. Grant in April of 1865. It still took two months to free the enslaved. 

Major General Gordon Granger and the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas to publicly announce the Emancipation Proclamation, thus, enforcing the freedom for over 250,000 enslaved Black people in Texas.

Juneteenth is a combination of June and nineteen. It celebrates freedom from slavery for Black people/African-Americans. This day is also known as “Freedom Day” and promotes recognition of African-American heritage and culture.

The U.S. American history includes numerous contributions from the Black community.

Mary Van Brittan Brown invented the home security system in 1966 and patented it three years later. To this day, her designs influence how current home security systems are structured. Alexander Miles invented automatic elevator doors in 1887, which eliminated the risk of falling down elevator shafts from the previous manual elevator doors. 

In 1923 Garret Morgan created the three-light traffic signal that we use today. Thomas L. Jennings was the first African-American patent recipient in the U.S. for developing dry-cleaning of delicate clothing. Dr. Patricia Bath, the first female African American medical doctor, invented the laser cataract treatment machine in 1986. 

There are countless ways the Black community has contributed to and influenced American culture through time that spans from everyday product uses to music and art, sciences and education, and more. 

Read about Juneteenth

10 Black Inventors Who Changed Your Life.