"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free." These words from General Order No. 3 were read on June 19, 1865, by Gen. Gordon Granger to the residents of Galveston, Texas, announcing the official emancipation of the African-American slaves from their masters. The next year, large Emancipation Day or "Juneteenth" celebrations were held all around Texas on "emancipation grounds," land purchased by the former slaves for the events. As years passed, the freed Texans migrated throughout the country, taking their tradition with them. Celebrations spread to Alabama, Florida and California in the first few years, then to the rest of the South and, eventually, to almost every state in the Union.
The Missouri Historical Society is hosting its own Juneteenth Celebration, as part of the Juneteenth Heritage and Jazz Festival, from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, June 20, outside the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. The party, celebrating 134 years of liberation, focuses on the history of how the news of emancipation spread across the slave states and features inspirational readings commemorating the event. Traditionally, a highlight of Juneteenth celebrations is the recitation of the Emancipation Proclamation, accompanied by local writers' works and excerpts from other famous works.
Performing musical tributes for the celebration are two mainstays of St. Louis' jazz scene, the Bosman Twins (pictured), who will take the stage at 3 p.m.
The party is free, so bring the whole family. A free shuttle will run to the museum from the parking lot just east of the museum, and the Forest Park MetroLink stop is less than a mile away. There's no reason not to take your dad out in the sunshine this Father's Day.
-- James A. Duffy