More than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed 3 million enslaved people in the U.S, an estimated 250,000 people were still being forced into slavery in Texas. That changed soon after General Granger arrived in the state with his troops.
On June 19, 1865, General Granger delivered General Order Number 3, which read:
“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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
According to Juneteenth.com, “The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation.” June 19th became a yearly celebration of freedom for black Americans and was dubbed Juneteenth. It is also known as Emancipation Day. Two days short of its 156 years birthday, President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
In celebration of the emancipation of the more than 3 million enslaved people in the United States, Environmental Health Coalition observes Juneteenth. We also take this moment to remember that it was only 156 years ago that black people were enslaved in our country. While celebrating freedom and all the contributions black Americans have made to the U.S. and the world, we must acknowledge that as a society we have fallen short of equity and equality and reaffirm our commitment to fighting for racial justice.