Whereas on the eve of January 1st, 1863, many Americans, especially African Americans, gathered in homes and churches for Freedom Watch gatherings; and
Whereas on January 1st, 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation established that all enslaved people in Confederate States in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free;” and
Whereas the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t instantly free any slaves. The proclamation only applied to places under Confederate control and not to slave-holding border states or rebel areas already under Union control; and
Whereas as Union troops advanced into the Confederate South, many slaves escaped behind Union lines; and
Whereas in Texas, slavery remained firmly in place without a significant presence of Union troops. Many slave owners from outside Texas viewed the state as a safe haven and moved there with their slaves; and
Whereas news of the Emancipation Proclamation and loss of the war by the Confederate States failed to reach many in Texas; and
Whereas on June 19th of 1865, General Granger’s Union Troops arrived in Galveston, ensuring freedom for Texas’s remaining 250,000 enslaved people; and
Whereas the following year, freed black men and women in Texas organized the first of what became the annual celebration of “Jubilee Day” on June Nineteenth, now called Juneteenth.
I invite all of our neighbors to join me in celebration of Jubilee Day, Our Second Independence Day or Juneteenth in the City of Gainesville, and ask that we use this celebration to better learn from our past, acknowledge our injustices today, and commit to working collectively towards a fully equitable future.