Vann Newkirk on the most famous American emancipation holiday, and why it must be celebrated:
Juneteenth, rather, celebrates a belated liberation. Enslaved people in the Confederacy who didn’t manage to escape to Union lines or find themselves in occupied territory were not all made free by Lincoln’s proclamation, and had to await the end of the Civil War to take their first free breaths. In isolated Texas, word of the official end of fighting, the surrenders of generals Lee and Johnston, and the capture of President Davis through May of 1865 arrived late. Freedom finally came to Texas on June 19 of that year, after a proclamation by General Gordon Granger in Galveston solidified the emancipation of the quarter-million enslaved people in the state.
Make it a national holiday. It’s long overdue.