Why do the black communities in this nation celebrate June 19, 1865, yet ignore the date January 16, 1865? One day became a holiday of some magnitude especially in the state of Texas, Juneteenth. While the other date, January 16, 1865, became a day of little or no recognition. One date involved the issuance of an important Field Order that came one of the Union Army's second-leading commander, General William T. Sherman who famously lead a military maneuver that effectively destroyed the armed forces of the Confederate States of America from Georgia to the coastline of South Carolina. While the other General Order was issued by a non-descript Major General George Granger, who was charged with the leadership of maintaining order and control in the state of Texas. I ask this question today on June 19, 2019, as many of my black brothers and sisters are engaged in the Juneteenth celebrations. Why don't we celebrate on January 16, 1865, isn't that the day of more historically importance?
Why, Juneteenth? I mean celebrating a date when in actuality enslaved Texans had been freed for 2 1/2 years by Presidential decree of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Or, shouldn't we have celebrated the date January 16, 1865, because that is the date when freed black American were supposedly given 40 acres and a government mule by Field Order #15. I mean if our ancestors had started that celebration date it may have forced the new Union of the United States to honor the promise of the land and the mule. What exactly did General Order #3 provide black Americans on June 19, 1865? Freedom, not really, just because the Confederate State of Texas didn't recognize the Emancipation Proclamation didn't mean it was inconsequential. In addition on January 13, 1865, Congress and the President mandated that every former slave was henceforth and forever free with the passage of the 13th Amendment. In actuality, Texas didn't formally ratify the 13th Amendment until February 18, 1870, which was almost 5 years after Juneteenth. So what exactly are we as Black Americans on June 19? It surely isn't the end of slavery because we know that slavery extended far beyond June 19, 1865. It may not have been the legalized institution that was the law of the land prior to the end of the Civil War but it surely was for all intent and purposes slavery.
If we are celebrating an actual Juneteenth, which referred to the end of institutional legalized slavery in this nation. The date should be referred to as Decemberteenth, reflecting December 6, 1865, the day that the 13th Amendment was ratified. It was that date in which the 13th Amendment became a part of the United States Constitution. I don't see any national celebrations in black communities on that date. I sorta wish that our black ancestors had made a huge deal out of January 16, 1865. I sorta, kinda wish that our ancestors in South Carolina and Georgia would've had some major parties celebrating Field Order #15. You know banners and all reflecting 40 acres and a government mule. May have even caused Andrew Johnson to reconsider recalling those orders. He might've even rethought his position of giving our deserved lands back to the former Confederate rebel plantation owners. Even if he didn't reconsider every year having a Januaryteenth celebration for our 40 acres and a mule would've put reparations front and center. I am damn sure that the state of Texas wouldn't have made that day a state holiday. You ask yourself this, what did the state of Texas lose, economically in making Juneteenth a state holiday? What Texas land was given to freed enslaved peoples as reparations for the ills and injury of slavery?
I don't have any problem with reasons for a party. What is the saying now in our black communities, "party with a purpose"? Well, I would've loved our ancestors to have partied with a purpose on Januaryteenth, January 16, 1865, and every year that followed. Reparations would've have been front and center every year since, 154 years and counting.