Juneteenth and African-American Art and History in Connecticut
Juneteenth is a commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, but its history is also deeply rooted in civic dialogue about and activism for equal rights that began at the first Juneteenth celebration in 1866.
The Civil War ended in April 1865 when General Robert E. Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, however, the end of slavery did not come until two months later when Union Major General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865 (This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official on January 1, 1863) with news of emancipation. Granger’s army was approaching the many slaveholders that took their slaves into Texas to avoid the advancement of the Union Army on the South. His declaration marked the official end of slavery in the United States.
Exactly one year later the first celebration took place in Texas to commemorate the end of slavery—this holiday is known as Juneteenth. Today, all but four states recognize June 19th as a holiday and there is a resolution to recognize it as a national holiday. Juneteenth has a rich history that helps us understand the African American struggle for freedom, justice, and equality that would continue through the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s and is ongoing today as well.
Shortly after emancipation, in the Reconstruction Era, white Americans put into place restrictive laws, known as Black Codes, that attempted to disenfranchise black Americans. Large scale celebrations that brought together entire communities became less frequent in the late 1910s due to the onset of the Jim Crow Era and segregation, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and nativism. Just prior to World War II, Juneteenth celebrations were revived in Texas once again and would highlight the appeals for equal rights in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s. Further, during the Civil Rights Movement many Blacks made connections between their ancestor’s struggle for freedom and equal rights. For example, organizers of the Poor People’s March in 1968 held a Solidarity Day Rally in Washington, D.C. on Juneteenth, which roughly 75,000 people attended.
Lesson Plan and Activities
Learn how to make a story quilt inspired by Faith Ringgold:
A Picture Book of Frederick Douglas
Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass
Susan B. Anthony Fighter for Women’s Rights
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