On December 31, 1862, enslaved and free African Americans across the nation gathered in churches and homes, waiting for news that would determine their future. It was on this "Freedom's Eve" that the first Watch Night services were held, symbolizing a powerful moment of anticipation and hope. At the stroke of midnight, the Emancipation Proclamation declared all enslaved people in Confederate States legally free. This pivotal moment set the stage for the eventual liberation of millions, culminating in the historic Juneteenth celebration - we had met our freedom.
While the Emancipation Proclamation marked a significant step forward, its implementation was challenging in places still under Confederate control. Consequently, it was not until June 19, 1865, that freedom reached the westernmost Confederate state of Texas. On that day, some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to announce the executive decree that declared over 250,000 enslaved Bblack people in the state free. This date, known as "Juneteenth," became a symbol of emancipation and a beacon of hope for the newly freed people in Texas.
Juneteenth stands as a testament to the resilience and spirit of the Black/African American community. This day symbolizes the long-overdue liberation of millions of our ancestors from the chains of slavery. The recognition and celebration of Juneteenth provides a liberating reminder of the power and blessing of who we are as Black people. Our triumph here is part of the shaping of this nation's history.
As we commemorate this momentous occasion, let us glory in the beauty of who we are, who you are, as a Black woman.