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Juneteenth: Celebrating a Path to Freedom — Unpacking General Order No. 3

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S., marked by General Order No. 3 in Texas on June 19, 1865, symbolizing freedom and cultural heritage.

Every year, on June 19th, communities across the United States commemorate Juneteenth, a significant yet often overlooked moment in American history. Juneteenth, short for “June Nineteenth,” marks the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were finally informed of their freedom, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. This day, intertwined with General Order No. 3, symbolizes the true end of slavery in the United States. Let’s dive into the historical importance of Juneteenth and explore how it’s celebrated today. See Original General Order No. 3

Historical Background

Slavery was a dark and integral part of American history, entrenched in the economic and social fabric of the nation. From the early 1600s, enslaved Africans were forcibly brought to America and subjected to inhumane conditions. This brutal institution not only dehumanized millions but also laid the foundation for systemic racial inequalities that persist to this day.

The Emancipation Proclamation

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves in Confederate-held territory free. However, the proclamation’s enforcement depended heavily on Union military victories. As such, many enslaved individuals remained unaware of their freedom until Union forces advanced into their regions.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It marks June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

Origin of the Name

The name “Juneteenth” is a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth,” symbolizing the specific date when the last enslaved African Americans were informed of their liberation. This blend of the month and the day highlights the significance of this particular date in history.

Juneteenth vs. Independence Day

While Independence Day, celebrated on July 4th, marks the United States’ declaration of independence from Britain in 1776, Juneteenth celebrates the actualization of freedom for all Americans. Independence Day is often viewed through the lens of national freedom, whereas Juneteenth is a powerful reminder of the fight for human rights and equality.

General Order No. 3

The Announcement

General Order No. 3 was issued by Major General Gordon Granger upon his arrival in Galveston. The order proclaimed, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” This declaration was pivotal, signaling the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in one of the most remote Confederate states.

The Role of General Gordon Granger

General Granger played a crucial role in the dissemination of this life-changing news. His arrival and subsequent announcement in Texas were critical in reaching those who had been deliberately kept in the dark about their emancipation. Granger’s presence underscored the Union’s commitment to ending slavery.

Impact on Texas and Beyond

The announcement had a profound impact on Texas, the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery. The news spread quickly, leading to the liberation of approximately 250,000 enslaved people in Texas. This pivotal moment paved the way for nationwide recognition of the end of slavery.

The Significance of Juneteenth

Symbol of Freedom and Liberation

Juneteenth is more than a date on the calendar; it’s a powerful symbol of freedom and resilience. It represents the triumph of the human spirit over the harshest conditions and the relentless pursuit of equality. For many, it serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for civil rights and justice.

Cultural Celebrations and Traditions

Celebrations of Juneteenth vary widely, encompassing everything from parades and festivals to educational events and family gatherings. Common traditions include barbecues, music, prayer services, and historical reenactments. These celebrations not only honor the past but also foster a sense of community and cultural pride.

Here’s a few local Juneteenth Events in Fort Wayne:

  • Juneteenth Business Symposium
  • Macknificent Freedom Fest
  • Juneteenth 2024 Events & Parties
  • Fort Wayne Center for Learning Juneteenth Celebration
    • Location: 2510 East Dupont Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46825
    • Organization: Fort Wayne Center for Learning
    • Website: FWCL
  • Juneteenth Events on June 15, 2024
    • Location: Various locations in Fort Wayne
    • Organization: Various
    • Website: 21 Alive News
  • Community Juneteenth Celebrations
    • Location: Various locations in Fort Wayne
    • Organization: Various community groups
    • Website: WBOI


Juneteenth is a day of profound historical and cultural significance. It marks the true end of slavery in the United States and serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice. Celebrations in Fort Wayne, supported by the Black Chamber Fort Wayne, reflect the importance of this day in our collective history. By honoring Juneteenth, we honor the resilience, spirit, and enduring fight for freedom of African Americans. See Original General Order No. 3