July 19, 2022
On New Year’s Day 1863 United States President Abraham Lincoln sign US Proclamation 95, otherwise known as the Emancipation Proclamation. This historic executive order redefined the legal status of 3.5 million African Americans from enslaved to free.
But very few enslaved peoples’ lives changed that day. As we know from the history of the Civil Rights movement, it took the better part of two centuries for the ideals articulated in the Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution for American culture to fully incorporate the legal reality of emancipation and citizenship.
Back in the 19th Century communications technology was much slower than it is today, but even then, word of the Proclamation should have only taken months to reach the furthest precincts of the former confederacy. Instead, the African American residents of Texas were not even informed of their new legal status until June 19, 1865, about two and a half years after the fact. June 19, 1865, the day when Major General Gordon Granger, of the United States Army landed at Galveston, Texas to share the wonderful news, has been celebrated for a century and a half as Juneteenth! Today, it is a federal holiday.
Consistent with Barclay Friends’ commitment to Quaker values, Juneteenth was celebrated on Monday, June 20, 2022, with a walk-through, multi-media exhibit in the William Penn Room to encourage staff and residents to connect with this important date in American history. Dubbed “Facts and Snacks: Juneteenth”, the event provided ice cream snacks for staff to enjoy as they perused the exhibits with their colleagues.