One hundred fifty-five years ago – on June 19, 1865 – Maj. General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, along with Union soldiers.
Granger’s main purpose was to inform still-enslaved black men, women and children of their freedom.
With the Civil War ended in April 1865, the slaves were informed that two years earlier, President Lincoln had enacted the Emancipation Proclamation, which gave them freedom.
But slaves in Texas were kept under control by Confederate enslavers.
Many slaves headed to nearby states to reunite with relatives who had earlier escaped.
The celebration is called Juneteenth, and over the years it has grown in popularity.
It’s a time for community and moving forward from a harsh past. A few rallies are planned in New Mexico to honor the day.
“This is a movement, not a moment,” says Cathryn McGill, founder of the New Mexico Black Leadership Council. “It’s about creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. It’s a message that we’ve been working hard to convey in the past 400 years and how we continue to do our work.”
From 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 19, at Roosevelt Park, there will be a protest for building unification through community.
McGill says that masks are to be worn and it’s important for those attending to practice social distancing. There will be speakers.
There will also be another rally from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 20, at the state Capitol in Santa Fe, called “Juneteenth: It Can’t Wait.”
The African American Performing Arts Center Foundation is going virtual with its performances. Two more performances can be watched Saturday, June 20, and Thursday, June 25, on its Facebook page.
The state is also putting on virtual Juneteenth celebrations, from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 20, on the social media pages of the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs and the New Mexico Black History Organizing Committee.
At New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, there will be a celebration at 7 p.m. Friday, June 19. The gathering will take place at Corbett Center Outdoor Stage. It is put on by the Black Student Association with ASNMSU.
On July 3, Albuquerque Little Theatre will host “Before the Fourth, Remember the Third,” which is a streaming event where underrepresented and oppressed voices in the community will speak. Information is at albuquerquelittletheatre.org.