On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth throughout the U. S. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.
Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1,1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order.
However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations.
And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question for whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory. Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.
It takes on a more national perspective as local and national Juneteenth organizations have arisen to take their place alongside other organizations. The mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture as not changed over the years. The events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national pride has grown.
Martin Luther King Jr Holiday (1983) Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King’s birthday, January 15. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law on November 2, 1983, and it was first observed three years later.
Wyoming was the first state to observe it in 1990 while some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. Arizona originally rescinded Martin Luther King Day, setting off a massive boycott in the state in 1987 until state voting return the holiday in 1992. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000 when South Carolina recognized it as a holiday. The idea of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday was promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations.
After King’s death, U. S. Representative John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan and U. S. Senator Edward Brooke, a Republican from Massachusetts introduced a bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the U. S. House of Representatives in 1979. However, it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage. Two of the main arguments mentioned by opponents were that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive, and that a holiday to honor a private citizen who had never held public office would be contrary to longstanding tradition.
Only two other people have national holidays in the U. S. honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Soon after, the King Center turned to support from the corporate community and the general public. The success of this strategy was cemented when musician Stevie Wonder released the single “Happy Birthday” to popularize the campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. Six million signatures were collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law, termed by a 2006 article in The Nation as “the largest petition in favor of an issue in U. S. history. ”
At the White House rose garden, on November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill, proposed by U. S. Representative Katie Hall of Indiana, creating a federal holiday to honor Dr. King. It was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986. The bill established the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission” to oversee observance of the holiday, and Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s wife, was made a member of this commission for life by President George H. W. Bush in May 1989.
Songs Recognizing the African American Struggle Before there were facebook, twitter, youtube or any other communicating applications, there was music. Music was an integral part of Black lives, especially in the South. The Blues music first emerged from work songs, folklore, and spirituals that identified with the difficulties of southern black life experiences. The blues were played with a sultry sound which was felt more than learned.
Although many whites were repulsed by this black music sound, it did not deter black Americans in the South from enjoying and identifying the blues as their own music. Songs have played an important role in the African American struggle. It has provided a voice for all to hear about their struggles and sacrifices during their journey in the civil rights movement. Below are excerpts of some of the songs that represented phases of the Black civil rights movement.