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Celebrating the Freedom of Enslaved People in America with Juneteenth

Celebrating Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Texas, bringing news that the Civil War had ended and that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued two and a half years earlier, was now the law of the land. The state was one of the last holdouts of the Confederate Army, and even after the news became widely known, white landowners continued trying to maintain their hold on the people they had enslaved. However, the news galvanized African-Americans across Texas. Some celebrated, others left to find family members from whom they had been separated, and still others continued fighting to free themselves from their oppressors.

In Asheville, African-Americans claimed their freedom on April 28, 1865, when Union cavalry arrived in the region. The state of North Carolina recognized Juneteenth as an official holiday in 2007, but celebrations began long before that. Today, June 19th is recognized across the nation as a holiday to celebrate and uplift African-American people, with food, speeches, gatherings, and activism.

This Juneteenth, we celebrate by asking members of our community to reflect on what the holiday means to them. Their answers, found in this video, are moving and enlightening. If you would like to hear more, you can view full interviews here: https://youtu.be/uSYMKUWWXs8 

To learn more about Juneteenth and the history of African-Americans in North Carolina, check out some of the books and interviews listed below. For more information about AfricanAmerican history in Asheville, contact Pack Memorial Library’s North Carolina Room or visit their web site, ncroom.buncombecounty.org.