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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Juneteenth Celebration-The Emancipation Proclamation

It is something about that document, the Emancipation Proclamation. The document that declared that those in bondage be set free. I traveled to Washington, D.C. and saw this document in the African-American Civil War Museum on U Street NW. The Street is a historical district for African-American and Civil War History. I blogged about my experience in August 2006.

The revised June 13, 2007 post is found below:

I made it to the African-American Civil War Museum. This time, after traveling a few more blocks on U Street NW, an historical district in Washington, D.C. for African-American and Civil War History, I found the African-American Civil War Museum. I concluded from my visit that raced whites, both Democrats and Republicans have always been divided and fighting among themselves. And that it important to remember that African-Americans survival depend on understanding we (as a people) have contributed to the survival of America and the betterment of America.

Hari Jones, Assistant Director of the African-American Civil War Museum who delighted in sharing the history of the Civil War, and African-Americans contribution. It was Jone who told me about Chaplain Garland White. White played an instrumental role in the liberation of African-Americans. Jones enjoyed retelling the story to a Hoosier about a woman, upon seeing White on the street, wanted to know who was that man. The woman thought the man looked a lot like her son.
White was indeed her son, a son who had fought to liberate his own mother:

"Accompanying the 28th USCT was Rev. Garland White who was born in Richmond as a slave and later escaped to the North where he recruited African Americans for the Union army. After addressing a crowd on the edge of the city an older woman approached and said, “This is your mother, Garland, whom you are talking to, who has spent twenty years of grief about her son” (p. 127)." Nelson Lankford. _Richmond Burning: The Last Days of the Confederate Capital.

In 1865, Garland H. White, black chaplain of the 28th U.S. Colored Infantry, wrote: "The historian pen cannot fail to locate us somewhere among the good and the great, who have fought and bled upon the alter of their country." Over 100 years later, the "historian pen" has finally begun to examine the story and significance of the United States Colored Troops.

Who could talk about the Civil War and not mention the emancipation proclamation?

I asked about the emancipation proclamation. Jones quickly shared a compelling story about the emancipation proclamation. The parchment issued as an executive order was to release African-Americans from bondage in order to save the Union. The parchment granted African-Americans the legitimacy to fight for their freedom.

An opportunity to dismantle the house of the oppressor, by the oppressed !

When Lincoln threaten to use this executive order to enlist person of colors, it was not well received, and others questioned whether or not he had the authority to do so under the Constitution. "Arguing against the black enlistment bill, one Democratic legislator declared: "'This is a government of white men, made by white men for white men, to be administered, protected, defended, and maintained by white men.'"

In joining the northern battle, African-Americans soldiers were aware that they were liberating themselves from the southern bonds of eternal damnation-slavery. In other words, African-Americans were "the great emancipator" from slavery, commissioned by Abraham Lincoln when he lifted the ban against persons of African descent from joining the military.

"Reacting sharply to the outrageous and offensive claims against his policy, an acerbic and unmoved Lincoln argued that peace would eventually come to the Union, and when it did: "'Then, there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have helped mankind to this great consummation; while, I fear, there will be some white ones, unable to forget that, with malignant heart, and deceitful speech, they have strove to hinder it.'"

This opportunity would be delayed but not denied.

According to the words used in the inscription located near the display of the document in the African-American Civil War Museum, suggests a well-kept secret about African-Americans contributions during the Civil War:

"The proclamation was drawn up first in July 1862, but because the North had fared badly in the War, Lincoln was advised not to issue the Proclamation until the Union Army finally won a battle. This occurred at Antietam in Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862( Battle of Antietam also called Battle of Sharpburg). Five Days later, on September 22, 1862 the proclamation ending slavery in the United States was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. It was finalized on January 1863" .

...over 200,000 African-Americans threaten with re-enslavement or death, traveled from the north and reentered the south to fight for the freedom of over four million slaves.

"The Confederate Congress responded quickly, and on May 1, 1863 passed a formal declaration that black men bearing arms would be viewed as insurrectionary slaves subject to the laws of the states where they were captured. At the very least, captured African American soldiers faced a return to the shackles of bondage."

Lincoln needed the African-Americans to fight the battle to save the Union.

The truth liberators of our people come from the people themselves. "Massachusetts Republican Governor John A. Andrew. Andrew had long and ardently advocated the use of blacks in the military -fully believing that they could, and would fight if given the opportunity. It was no surprise then, when he, along with the earnest support of Frederick Douglass - raised the nation's first post-Emancipation Proclamation black unit, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment."

I left the Jones Museum with a different perspective on this document, the Emancipation Proclamation. The next time I would see the document was a traveling Abraham Lincoln's Constitution Exhibit came to my hometown. I would learn more about empty promises from the Emancipation Proclamation:

Abraham Lincoln's Constitution exhibit came to the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was able to see the famous Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln. According to Wikipedia encyclopedia this document was "a presidential order in 1863 that freed most (but not all) of those who were (enslaved) (in certain States). It was not a law passed by a Congress but a proclamation written by the president alone based on the war powers given to the President by the Constitution."

It was important for me to eye ball and piece together the evidence espoused by the Republican party that President Lincoln should be honored for freeing the enslaved African-Americans. The exhibit was really about President having the right to seize property and states rights. President Lincoln using his war power to seize property (including human in bondage)belonging to those states that were in rebellion on his ban on slavery (in my opinion)in white man territories, the north.

If seizing property was not bad enough by President Lincoln the first idea of giving reparation to freed African-American was over the top. In 1862, President Lincoln wanted to give reparation to freed African-Americans. But the ideal did not go over very well according to the exhibit, and the plan was scrapped. But President Lincoln came up with another idea to make the territories come into compliance and it was the Emancipation Proclamation.

On January 1, 1863 the new year's celebration, became even more special to enslaved African-Americans. President Lincoln declared under his Emancipation Proclamation that those states and territories seceding from the Union, that their property would be confiscated, included those in human bondage. Included in the agreement was an offer of freedom for those agreeing to fight for the Union. What a sweet deal, and included a bonus of a promise of 40 acres and a mule in the war zone.The government would not have to compensation the enslaved for their free labor. But the news traveled slowly. By April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. And folks in Texas found out on June 19, 1865 they had been free for over two years !

The Juneteenth celebration.

On December, 1865, the 13th Amendment was ratified by certain states. Finally enforcement against those who would keep folks in bondage, after the failure or the power to enforce the constitutional provision that ban slavery in 1808.

Other links about Juneteenth within the Afrosphere:



  1. Nice job, great post. happy Juneteenth.

  2. You are blessed to have seen the documents face-to-face (so to speak). Thank you for sharing this personal story with us.

    My Juneteenth post is also up & running...

  3. Great read. Eddie Griffin

  4. Juneteenth is America’s 2nd Independence Day celebration. Americans of African descent were trapped in the tyranny of enslavement on the country's first "4th of July", 1776, Independence Day. We honor our ancestors, Americans of African descent, who heard the news of freedom and celebrated with great joy and jubilation, on the "19th of June", Juneteenth, 1865.

    It took over 88 years for the news of freedom to be announced in Southwest Texas, over two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln.

    The National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign has worked diligently for several years to establish legislation in 29 states to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or state holiday observance, the District of Columbia, as well as the Congress of the United States. This has been a great accomplishment for the "Modern Juneteenth Movement" in America, reaching far beyond the establishment of Juneteenth as a state holiday in the place were it all began, in Texas, first celebrated in 1980.

    Together we will see Juneteenth become a National Holiday in America!

    Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
    National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign
    National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
    National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)