Scuze Me…Mr. President…What do you mean I’ve been free for 2 1/2 years???
Juneteenth celebrations are taking place across America today, to celebrate the ending of slavery. It is the oldest known celebration commemorating this event, dating back to 1865, on this date, when Major General Gordon arrived in Galveston, TX with news that the war was over and that the enslaved were now free. HOWEVER, President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years earlier, which had become official on January 1, 1863.
I can only imagine the reaction of many of the slaves upon receiving the news. Surely many were more than happy about the news, and for others, I would imagine may have been in somewhat of a shock. The questions for some had to be, what do we do now?
If slavery were set in "modern day", I would imagine the conversation may have gone something like this:
MG Gordon: Ok, y'all gather 'round. I have been asked to deliver this message to y'all that President Lincoln signed this here Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years ago, so y'all can go now.
Slaves: Ur, uh, Scuze me... You mean to tell us that we have been free for two and a half years and you just decided to come here to let us know. What the What??? Where have you been, and what were you doing that took you so long to get here with this information?
MG Gordon: I had to wrap up some military duties, with the war and all, then I had to assemble these Union Soldiers to ride with me for protection, had some problems with the horses, and a few minor setbacks. I understand, I would be mad if it was me!
Truth is, there are many stories circulating as to why the information was delivered late, but for whatever the reason(s), waiting two and a half years to alert the slaves of their freedom was ridiculous.