Happy Juneteenth! On June 19, 1865, nearly 2 ½ years after the executive order had taken effect, the Emancipation Proclamation was read on harbor pier in Galveston, Texas, freeing the last of southern slaves. Juneteenth is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth and was once referred to as Jubilee. The first documented celebration of Juneteenth was held in Galveston a year later, on June 19, 1866. On this day participants gathered to enjoy fellowship with one another over food, song, and a sermon that concluded the ceremony at Reedy Chapel A.M.E Baptist Church— the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in Texas. On June 7, 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday. Today marks the 152nd anniversary of Juneteenth, which will be a day filled with parades, film screenings, festivals, African-American heritage exhibits, reenactments, cultural programming and more to commemorate the end of chattel slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is also reserved as a day to reflect on the accomplishments made in the Black community since emancipation.
Below are two programs within our Claude and Zernona Black collection that document Juneteenth celebrations here in San Antonio. Image one is the flyer for the 1982 Juneteenth celebration by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and image two is the program of the 2003 celebration sponsored by the Witte Museum.
-Jessica C. Neal