President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves living in rebelling states became official on January 1, 1863. It was not until two and a half years later however, on June 19, 1865, that the Union Army was finally able to enforce the freeing of enslaved men, women, and children in the Confederate state of Texas.
It is also important to note that while the Emancipation Proclamation freed people from bondage in rebelling states, slavery throughout the nation was not abolished until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865.
Historians have explained that many factors contributed to the delay in freeing enslaved people in Texas and throughout the entire nation.
As we commemorate this day, Juneteenth 2020, 155 years later, any further delays in providing black Americans with racial and social justice cannot be explained. Let us work together, both purposefully and progressively, for real change.
Kerry C. Roe, Assistant Professor of History, on behalf of the Diversity Council.