Story of Freedom Found in Juneteenth
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
May 30, 2002

If anything this Country stands for it should be freedom.  And so it is fitting that we experienced a great moment in the evolutionary life of American freedom on June 19, 1865.  According to the Juneteenth Celebration Guide, "this was the day that Union General Gordon Grainger rode into Galveston Bay, Texas and read Executive Order #3, proclaiming "all slaves are free.

"Executive order #3 came two years, six months, and eighteen days after the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 in which President Abraham Lincoln granted freedom to al slaves in the Confederate states. 

"Why did it take so long for freedom to come?  Some speculate that the man who was dispatched to bring the news to Texas was killed; others believed that the farmers in Texas knew but simply chose not to obey the President's order.  As the news of their freedom spread, jubilant celebrations broke out all across Texas.  Although General Order #3 advised the slaves to remain with their former owners and work for wages, the majority chose to strike out on their own – a testament to the will and industriousness of the African people and their desire to be totally free.

"Just as the Israelites in the Old Testament were admonished to not forget the day that the Lord brought them out of bondage in Egypt, the former slaves did not forget the day that they were brought out of bondage in America.  The celebration that had gone on June 19, 1865 was repeated on June 19, 1966 and every year since then.  This year marks the 138th year that Juneteenth has been celebrated in Texas."

This year the County is sponsoring The Juneteenth Freedom Month Prayer Breakfast and will especially honor all Bexar County employees.  It will be held at the Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum from 9 AM to 11 AM.

As many of us approach Independence Day on July 4, let us also remember a day that has very special significance on June 19 with a beginning celebration this Saturday.

<< Return to Writings