Friday, June 19, 2020

Juneteenth - from Galveston in 1865 to around the country

On June 19, 1865, federal troops reached Galveston, Texas, and informed the enslaved people there that they were free. That was two months after the Confederacy surrendered, and two and a half years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation declared that "all people held as slaves" in states that were "in rebellion against the United States" were free as of January 1, 1863. Since June 19, some African Americans have celebrated June 19 as Juneteenth. So You Want to Learn About Juneteenth?, N.Y. Times (June 18, 2020).

newspaper image

Order for the District of Texas by Major General Granger, June 19, 1865
(as printed in the Dallas Herald, July 1, 1865, at 2:

"The people 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 that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere. By order of Major General GRANGER. (Signed) F. W. Emery, Maj & A. A. G.

Washington—like 44 other states and the District of Columbia—recognizes Juneteenth as a holiday (but not the sort of holiday where government shuts down for a day). This year, responding to heightened awareness of racial injustice, some companies are declaring the day a company holiday (see N.Y. Times story above). And Biglaw is joining in. More Firms Opt To Observe Juneteenth As A Holiday, Law360 (June 17, 2020). (UW Law users: log in to Law360 with your Lexis ID.)

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