Juneteenth becomes an official holiday

Published 6:39 am Saturday, June 19, 2021

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NAACP Orange TX Branch was excited about the announcement of another milestone in American History, especially in Texas; because the news came late of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“This was a long time coming,” NAACP President John Jefferson said. “Thank God it finally happened.”

Jefferson has seen many changes throughout his life. He can recall segregation and seeing the water fountains for whites only.

“The Fourth of July, not to belittle anything, is not a black race independence,” Jefferson said. “We did not get freedom so it did not have significance for us. Our ancestors were still in slavery.”

Jefferson described the announcement as a milestone that he did not except to see in his lifetime.

“I was overwhelmed and glad when I saw it being signed,” Jefferson said. “It is a mark in history that I personally lived to see. The world should be proud of this.”

Jefferson said he would love to see our community as a whole.

‘I want to see unity,” Jefferson said. “Since we revamped the NAACP in Orange, I have been striving for Unity in the Community. We are making strides in the right direction.”

Sen. Cornyn has been the lead author of a resolution honoring Juneteenth each year since 2011.  He also authored a bill with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) for a federal study of a National Emancipation Trail from Galveston to Houston, following the path of slaves freed on June 19, 1865 to spread the news, which was signed into law.

“For more than a century, Texans have celebrated Juneteenth and commemorated the anniversary of the day slaves in Texas were first informed of the news that they were indeed free,” U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said after his bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday was signed into law by President Biden.

On June 19, 1865, Union troops in Texas began to enforce the end of slavery, two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. On that day in Galveston, Union Gen. Gordon Granger issued an order which read in part:

“The people of Texas 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…”

Approximately 250,000 enslaved Texans had new legal rights, which were codified later that year by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s finally time to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday,” Cornyn said. “I reintroduced this bipartisan bill with the Senator from Massachusetts, Senator Markey, this year, and I have been proud to work alongside my fellow Texan, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee in the House to get the bill passed and signed into law.”

“I want to thank the dozens of senators on both sides of the aisle who have supported this effort,” Cornyn said. “I think particularly now at this point in our nation’s history, a little reconciliation could go a long way. And it’s also an opportunity to learn from our past.”

“America is the greatest nation in the world, but we are not perfect,” Cornyn said. “While America is not perfect, we continue to do the work to strive to be a more perfect union.”

Texas A&M University System shut down Friday, June 18, in observance of Juneteenth being designated a national holiday, Chancellor John Sharp announced Thursday.

“This is a special day that originated in Texas and we’re proud to honor it,” Sharp said.

In recognition of the historic nature of this event, the 11 universities and eight state agencies in the Texas A&M System observed this holiday Friday.

To celebrate Juneteenth, Juneteenth in the Fruit is from 11 am. – 7 p.m. at the Riverfront Pavilion in Orange. The theme is “Breaking the curse by instilling the culture.”

The Orange chapter of the NAACP will hold a membership drive during the event.

The event is free admission and open to the public. Bring lawn chairs, blankets, tents, etc. and shop local vendors while enjoying food and entertainment. A kid fun zone is included.