June 19, 1865, also known as Juneteenth, was “emancipation day in Texas” for approximately 250,000 slaves in Texas.
Union Major General Gordon Granger with 2,000 federal troops arrived on Galveston Island to announce the Civil War was over and that all slaves were now free.
The former relationship between slave master and slave would now be replaced between an employer and a free laborer with wages paid for a days work.
There were large celebrations of now former slaves in Galveston that day, with many of them dressing in fine clothes taken away from their former slave masters.
Future celebrations were always started with morning church services to give thanks and offer their prayers for their freedom.
Many of the day’s events would include parades, rodeos, street fairs, cook outs, and family reunions.
The traditional beverage of this annual celebration was strawberry soda followed with traditional dishes of beef, pork, and chicken.
Many former slaves would make an annual pilgrimage to Galveston to hear the reading of the emancipation proclamation and share their own stories of bondage with each other.
And to my next door neighbor and my black friends, Happy Juneteenth Day.
Jack Ayoub Harlingen