The Charlotte Museum of History is excited that Chris and the team at 704 Shop have invited us to power their Fact Friday series! This edition, Number 299, is just a taste of the kinds of things we’ll bring you over the next few months. We’ll talk about - you guessed it - Charlotte history. From the earliest history of the Catawba Nation through the 20thcentury and the creation of the New South city we live in today. Let’s get started!
Tomorrow is the annual commemoration and celebration of Juneteenth, which marks the end of chattel slavery in the United States. The name of the holiday references June 19, 1865, when Federal soldiers marched into Confederate-occupied Galveston, Texas, and announced that every enslaved person in the state was now free, thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation, issued more than two years earlier.
Manuscript of Emancipation Proclamation on card, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.
Detail of General Order #3, Galveston, Texas, June 19, 1865, Issued by Order of Major General Granger. U.S. National Archives.
When the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, Union soldiers carried copies of the document through Confederate States, bringing freedom to enslaved people. But the decree couldn’t be enforced in far-flung states that remained under Confederate control. As the Civil War drew to a close and Lee surrendered in April 1865, Union troops continued making their way through the South, bringing with them the news of freedom.
Learn about the tumultuous days of 1865 on a North Carolina plantation, as enslaved people are freed and then create a new life for themselves, thanks to Historic Stagville State Historic Site’s online exhibit The Freedom Struggle: 1865 at Stagville.
Not until the passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on December 4, 1865, was slavery officially abolished. In certain Black communities across the South, particularly in Texas, Juneteenth has been celebrated with Juneteenth feasts, parades, and celebrations for years now, but the holiday has gone unrecognized more broadly until recently.
Emancipation Day celebration, June 19, 1900. Held in “East Woods” on East 24th Street in Austin, Texas. Credit: Austin History Center.
Earlier this week, Congress passed legislation establishing Juneteenth as a national federal holiday. The bill is expected to be signed into law, making it the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was added in 1983.
Juneteenth Celebration. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, Gift of Princetta R. Newman.
National Museum of African American History & Culture Juneteenth: Celebration of Resilience
CMH Lunch & Learn: Celebrating Juneteenth, featuring Khadija McNair, Assistant Site Manager of Historic Stagville State Historic Site. Livestreamed June 18, 2020.
Celebrate this weekend:
Until next time,
Angel Johnston, Charlotte Museum of History
About The Charlotte Museum of History
The Charlotte Museum of History exists to save and share the Charlotte region’s history, helping create a better understanding of the past and inspiring dialogue about the future. The museum is the steward of the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Rock House and homesite, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest home in Mecklenburg County. Visit charlottemuseum.org and follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The museum is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
“Juneteenth: Freedom Day” NC Museum of History
“Juneteenth: Celebration of Resilience” National Museum of African American History & Culture
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass