Clarified: History of Juneteenth

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Clarified: History of Juneteenth

Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, all enslaved people still were not free. That changed on June 19, 1865.

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln, in the heat of the Civil War, on Jan. 1, 1863. However, this proclamation does not free all enslaved people. As the Union Army, some of whom were formerly enslaved people, begin advancing through the southern states to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, they are met with great resistance. Specifically, in Texas. In this episode of Clarified, Angela Thorpe, Director of the NC African American Heritage Commission, explains how General Order No. 3 signed on June 19, 1865, finally informs enslaved people in Texas they are free. Thorpe explains why enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation took so long, the nuances of the order, how Black people were involved in liberating others, the challenges they faced after becoming free and the traditional celebrations. “Black people have always had agency, Black people have always made decisions for themselves, even in the most sort of heinous of circumstances. And yet, that is something we are not educated around,” Thorpe said.You’ll also hear the personal account of Laura Smalley, a former enslaved person who was interviewed in 1941 about her memory of the first Juneteenth at the age of 86. Smalley was 10 years old and living in Bellville, Texas when she learned she was free. Smalley’s account brings this historic event to life and reminds us that 1865 wasn’t that long ago.

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln, in the heat of the Civil War, on Jan. 1, 1863. However, this proclamation does not free all enslaved people.

As the Union Army, some of whom were formerly enslaved people, begin advancing through the southern states to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, they are met with great resistance. Specifically, in Texas.

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In this episode of Clarified, Angela Thorpe, Director of the NC African American Heritage Commission, explains how General Order No. 3 signed on June 19, 1865, finally informs enslaved people in Texas they are free.

Thorpe explains why enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation took so long, the nuances of the order, how Black people were involved in liberating others, the challenges they faced after becoming free and the traditional celebrations.

“Black people have always had agency, Black people have always made decisions for themselves, even in the most sort of heinous of circumstances. And yet, that is something we are not educated around,” Thorpe said.

You’ll also hear the personal account of Laura Smalley, a former enslaved person who was interviewed in 1941 about her memory of the first Juneteenth at the age of 86.
Smalley was 10 years old and living in Bellville, Texas when she learned she was free. Smalley’s account brings this historic event to life and reminds us that 1865 wasn’t that long ago.

Contributed by local news sources

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