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Community Living

June 14, 2014

Juneteenth Celebration set for June 21 in Chickasha

— Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American citizens throughout the United States. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.

During the US Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863. Although it declared that slaves were to be freed in the Confederate States of America in rebellion against the federal government, Texas did not act to comply with the Emancipation Proclamation.

On June 18, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived on the island of Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves.  On June 19, standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of "General Order No. 3”. Across many parts of Texas, freed people pooled their funds to purchase land specifically for their communities and increasingly large Juneteenth gatherings

The event was made a Texas state holiday beginning in 1980, under legislation introduced by freshman Democratic state representative Al Edwards. The legislation was opposed by African-American representative Clay Smothers of Dallas County, who declared the holiday "fraudulent" and belittled the observance as merely "ceremoniously grinning and bursting watermelons on the Capitol grounds". Juneteenth is a "partial staffing holiday", meaning that state offices do not close, but some employees use a floating holiday to take the day off. Schools are not impacted because they are already into summer vacation by June 19.

Its observance has spread to many other states, with a few celebrations taking place even in other countries.  In 1996 the first legislation to recognize "Juneteenth Independence Day" was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.J. Res. 195, sponsored by Barbara-Rose Collins (D-MI). In 1997 Congress recognized the day through Senate Joint Resolution 11 and House Joint Resolution 56. In 2013 The U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 175, acknowledging Lula Briggs Galloway (late president of the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage) who "successfully worked to bring national recognition to Juneteenth Independence Day", and the continued leadership of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.

The Chickasha Juneteenth Celebration Community will kick-off the activities on June 21, 2014, with a parade at 1st & Dakota at 10:00 a.m., opening ceremony at Washita Valley Park at 11:00 a.m. and Celebration at 12:00 noon.  The celebration is open to the general public.

The committee is still accepting donations. If you would like to make a donations or need more information please contact Casta Thomas at 405.627.5049.

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