When Union General Granger landed in Texas with federal troops in June, 1865, to take back the last remaining defeated Confederate state, he found that some 200,000 people were still enslaved there. His order on June 19, 1865, freed the very last slaves in America. Over time, the date became known as Juneteenth, and is celebrated as the true Emancipation of African Americans. There is a movement to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
The Harrisonburg-Rockingham NAACP branch celebrates Juneteenth with a picnic at a shelter in Bridgewater’s Wildwood Park on the North River. There is a variety of activities including a reading of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, discussions of various aspects of history, and often drumming and singing. It is a time for sober reflection of the past and a renewed commitment to the struggle for equality and justice. And a great meal with many contributors!