Tomorrow is Juneteenth. HDESD will honor this day with a minute of silence and reflection at noon. This is time for reflection and recognition of the movement to advance social justice and unite against racism.
We join a growing number of organizations—from large corporations like Ford Motor Company to our regional healthcare partner St. Charles Hospital—who are reflecting on the Black American experience (from 1619 to today), both in response to this moment and in honor of the work that we all have ahead of us.
We have the unwanted gift this spring—gift, that’s an ironic and deliberate word choice—of once again seeing the violent racism that is at the core of our society, our economy, our city planning, and yes, even our school systems. The gift is that when we see it, we change it. We say that all the time in education—once we can identify the gaps, we work to close them. Well…there’s a really big gap in the middle of the room right now, staring us down. I wish I had a good answer for why we haven’t been more effective at staring it down right back by now. I don’t. I am thankful, however, to be among HDESD peers as we figure out how to do better in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
If you’re not familiar with Juneteenth, here is an introduction. And, I recommend the excellent set of Teaching Tolerance resources who all who want to learn more.
The news of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865, reached Texas later in the month. The western Army of the Trans-Mississippi did not surrender until June 2. On June 18, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2,000 federal troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the federal government. The following day, standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read aloud the contents of “General Order No. 3”, announcing the total emancipation of those held as slaves:
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 personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
Although this event is popularly thought of as “the end of slavery,” the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to those enslaved in Union-held territory, who would not be freed until a proclamation several months later, on December 18, 1865, that the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865. The freedom of formerly enslaved people in Texas was given legal status in a series of Texas Supreme Court decisions between 1868 and 1874.