This Day in History- Juneteenth

On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation made all slaves free people, making an official end to legally sanctioned slavery. However, Texas refused to acknowledge this, and thus continued these practices. They continued two years after the proclamation, until Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, and announced that the war was over and that slavery was ended. This landing occurred on June 19th, 1865. Huge celebrations erupted, and continue to be held yearly.

Juneteenth stands for more than just the liberation of African American slaves in Texas, but for hope in the face of the next struggles for former slaves: the establishment of their new position in Texas and the United States, and the fight for equal rights and fair treatment as citizens – a fight which lasted over 100 years, and still continues to this day.

Today, we recognize the struggle that former slaves and people of color faced during the formative years of the United States, and the pain that they endured. We also recognize the failure of the system that allowed two and a half years to pass between the ending of legal slavery and the ending of the actual practice in Texas. The North failed to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation for an unknown reason in Texas, allowing further inhumane treatment to occur. This is something that must not be allowed to occur again.

Though legal slavery does not exist anymore in the United States, there is still a cruel current of human trafficking– modern day sex and labor slavery- in every part of the nation. In the last several years, almost 10,000 cases of human trafficking have been discovered, and it is speculated that many more suffer unseen and unheard.  The responsibility falls on us to make sure that the system that failed to protect former slaves in Texas does not fail those suffering today. 

We have made huge steps as a nation to ensure the safety and protection of those who are unable to protect themselves. Through our combined efforts, it is possible that someday we can celebrate the end of human trafficking, just as we celebrate Juneteenth.

Look here for tips on how to recognize and for resources to contact if you suspect someone you know is being trafficked.

–       Melina, Law Library Intern


By rcll

June 19, 2015

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