Certain traditions came to be associated with the Juneteenth observance into the 20th century. Some of the practices date back to festivals set in African tradition during the colonial era. There was, for example, a parade in which a “Juneteenth king and queen” might be selected through balloting. Another feature of the early Juneteenth observation was to invite any formerly enslaved Africans in the area to be given a place of honor (such as in the parade) and given the opportunity to recount for a younger generation their experiences in bondage. Some formerly enslaved African Americans who had left Texas and escaped to Mexico via the Underground Railroad returned specifically for the Juneteenth observance.
As the holiday became more festive, public entertainment, family reunions, and other events became more prominent. In places such as Dallas, rodeos were the center of the celebration. Food was and is important in the celebrations, and an emphasis on barbecues is standard. All kinds of meats are cooked and shared. Some participants also make unique dishes, and in some locations, like Austin, there are cook-off contests. Wearing red and having red foods like watermelon, red soft drinks, and strawberry pie is also symbolic at the Juneteenth celebration. In some Texas localities, people donned plantation-style dress replete with red bandanas.
Work Cited: "Juneteenth." African American Folklore: An Encyclopedia for Students, edited by Anand Prahlad, Greenwood, 2016, pp. 186-188. Gale eBooks, https://link-gale-com.pgcmls.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/CX7121400084/GVRL?u=larg70913&sid=GVRL&xid=e148d9a9. Accessed 10 June 2020.
CR Gibbs is the author/co-author of six books and a frequent national and international lecturer on an array of historical topics. Here, he explains the history and significance of Juneteenth!
We look at where the holiday of Juneteenth came from and why it's still a mystery to so many people.
Juneteenth, celebrated annually on June 19, is the longest-running African American holiday. Recognition of Juneteenth began in Texas in 1865 and has increasingly permeated African American popular culture.
Black slaves are smuggled through the Texas port of Galveston.
Mexico adopts a constitution freeing the slaves within its borders, including Texas, but American settlers in Texas continue to hold slaves.
The Texas Revolution erupts against Mexico and leads to the formation of the independent Republic of Texas.
Texas enters the Union as the 28th state; it is admitted as a slave state.
Texas becomes the seventh state to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy.
Soldiers from the 62nd United States Colored Troops are involved in the last military skirmish of the Civil War at White's Ranch in Texas.
First Juneteenth. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army rode into Galveston, Texas, to announce (belatedly) the emancipation of African slaves.
Juneteenth became an official holiday in Texas
Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan (R), issues a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth as an Official State Holiday to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.
Jones, H. J. (2020). Texas Timeline. In The American Mosaic: The African American Experience. Retrieved from http://africanamerican.abc-clio.com.pgcmls.idm.oclc.org/Search/Display/1541499.
Brooks, C. (2020). Juneteenth. In The American Mosaic: The African American Experience. Retrieved from http://africanamerican.abc-clio.com.pgcmls.idm.oclc.org/Search/Display/1401858
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