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President's Blog

Celebrating Juneteenth

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that all previously enslaved people in Texas were free. Although President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had been signed two and a half years prior, there was no one to ensure that the proclamation was known and upheld in the absence of federal troops.

Manya Whitaker, associate professor of education and interim director of the Butler Center, likened Juneteenth to the Fourth of July: “for many Black descendants of enslaved people, Juneteenth — or Jubilee — is our independence day. Just as July 4th is celebrated in memory of the colonies gaining independence from England, Juneteenth is when the last enslaved people, 2 ½ years after slavery was supposed to have ended, were finally set free in Texas.”

Read more about Juneteenth here.

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