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Junteenth is not what you think

I'm so pleased that the Federal Government has declared Juneteenth a holiday nationwide. But it's not exactly what you assume. Reports say that it's celebrating the Emancipation of the slaves and it is. . .sort of.

The Civil war officially ended two months before June 19th, 1865, the day commemorated by the new holiday. Even more astonishing is the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed TWO AND A HALF YEARS before news of the ban on slavery in America reached Galveston, Texas! We are celebrating the NEWS of the emancipation reaching Galveston!

But Texas was a "Southern" State and the American South had declared itself a separate Nation, the Confederate States of America. It took a civil war and over 600,000 dead Americans to force the "Confederates" to honor the laws against slavery of the United States of America.

So not only was the Emancipation Proclamation signed by the United States of America's President Abraham Lincoln disregarded by the Confederate States, it was kept as secret as possible.

Even those rebels who saw the inevitable conclusion to the bloody civil war clearly figured the longer the secret of the emancipation was kept, the longer they would keep their wealth and power.

But after the war, the USA sent troops to Galveston TX to spread the word. The war was over, the slaves were free, help was available.

The Freedman Bureau was set up as a resource for freed and former slaves. It was designed to help slaves find family separated by human trafficking, find housing, employment, and redress for post-war mistreatment.

It also was designed to provide education and opportunity for training as thousands entered the workforce as wage earners.

In recent years, FamilySearch.org obtained the Freedman Bureau records from the National Archive and indexed millions of data into it's family archives. Today, those Americans descended from slaves can enter what they know about their family history and find the links to documents, family trees and their own family histories.

I happened to be in Galveston TX one Juneteenth several years ago. The scent of barbeque and fireworks hung heavy in the air. The public parks were filled with children, black and white, playing happily as their mothers chatted nearby. A parade blocked off the major thoroughfares that evening and the celebration was capped by a spectacular firework show. It was as joyful a holiday as the 4th of July, our other celebration of freedom.

I have often wondered how far I would have gone if faced with the decision to help the oppressed in the days of slavery. I have to measure the answer by how I act now.

In modern times organizations like Operation Underground Railroad https://ourrescue.org continue to fight to eliminate human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking from the American landscape. As always , the most vulnerable among us are the victims.

Celebrate Juneteenth by helping Operation Underground Railroad in their work against human trafficking! America has made great progress in healing the wounds to American freedom, but oppression is still going on and will continue as long as evil resides in human hearts. We can still act to further the cause of freedom.

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