Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is considered the oldest celebration that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.
On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas with 2,000 troops. He issued General Order 3, which declared an end to slavery more than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Because of Texas’s isolation and the slow movement of news about the Civil War, many slaves were unaware of the Emancipation degree of January 1, 1863.
In later years, the commemoration, coined from “June” and “nineteenth,” expanded to other southern states. The commemoration extended to northern and western states during the Great Migration (1915-1960s) when nearly 5 million southern blacks moved north and headed west. To date, Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
The Female RE- Enactors of Distinction (FREED) is an auxiliary organization of the District-based African American Civil War Memorial and Museum. Formed in 2007, group members--dressed in period clothing--engage in re-enactments and dramatic readings that tell the distinctive stories of black soldiers and the women who served as nurses and cooks; operated as spies, couriers and guides; and supported their men in numerous ways. FREED has accepted invitations to perform at schools, churches, military facilities, libraries, conferences and historic events locally and in other states. Annually, the ladies of the Civil War participates in the D.C. Emancipation Day Parade.
C.R. Gibbs is a historian and humanities scholar who received his Masters Degree in History form Howard University. The native Washingtonian has appeared on Maryland Public Television and the History Channel. He wrote, researched and narrated for Howard University's television station, Sketches in Color, a 13-part companion series to the PBS series, The Civil War. He has authored serveral books including Black, Copper & Bright: The District of Columbia's Black Civil War Regiment (2002). In addition to writing a regular column for the Port of Harlem magazine, Gibbs can be occasionally heard on blog talk radio 3rd Eye Open.
Join us on Saturday June 4 at 2 p.m. for FREED's portrayal of Black Women's accomplishments during the Civil War and return on Wednesday, June 22 at 7 p.m. for historian C.R. Gibbs's lecture entitled "The Secret History of Juneteenth."