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“All my life i’ve been a slave”

June 19, 2007

Happy Juneteenth y’all!

Juneteenth is the celebration of June 19th 1865, when the Emancipation Proclamation finally made it to the dirty, dirty south, 18 months after it supposedly went into effect.

The way i always heard the story, when the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas and anounced the Emancipation Proclamation the slaves there were the last in the US to hear about it – and so, more or less, this was the date the EP actually went into effect.

I can’t verify all of that, but it was the day the Union army arrived in Galveston.  I suspect that “enforced” might be more accurate than “announced,” and i haven’t been able to find out, in my admittedly brief efforts, whether this was actually the last place that slaves were officially freed.  (Clearly that is up for a great deal of debate, as people are to this day found to be enslaved in the United States.  But this, i think, is different from Slavery as it is a part of American history.)

Nonetheless, what started with the celebration of the newly-free people in Galveston has become an annual celebration of freedom and the ending of slavery, and has spread from Galveston throughout the country (though still weighted towards texas and the south). 

Juneteenth is one of my favorite holidays – despite its rather low profile.  As my friend said when i “Happy Juneteenth”ed her, “Makes me crave barbecue, cold watermelon and the blues.”  I might add cold beer and a lot of people to share it all with in my front yard, but i never remember to actually plan my Juneteenth party.

For the record, the other favorites are Halloween and Valentines.  One could say these three rank because i’m idealistic, loony and sappy.  Or we could just leave it at “i like them.”

Happy Juneteenth y’all.

Lady Brett
“No Headstone on My Grave” – Esther Phillips

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