Local News

Leading Off (6/18/21)

Fort Worth's Opal Lee had a lifelong dream come true on Thursday. Juneteenth is now a federally recognized holiday.

Juneteenth is Saturday. On June 19, 1865, enslaved men and women in Galveston were finally informed they were free. Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger brought news of their freedom. This was nearly three years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and Granger’s news traveled slowly to the remaining quarter of a million enslaved people throughout the state. (In fact, the news came so late that Lincoln was already dead by the time Granger rode into town.) But the next year, 1866, marked the first celebration of Juneteenth, according to historian and professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. It has become one of the nation’s most important anniversaries. How did Juneteenth spread? Dr. Deborah Hopes, of Remembering Black Dallas, told us this week: “Word of mouth, from family to family, as most things do. It went from Texas to Louisiana and Arkansas and Oklahoma, because families migrated. These were people who, once they were free, started looking for work and purchasing land. Families that moved to Missouri and moved further North, the celebration went with them. And that’s how it’s spread, even to this day.” On Thursday afternoon, President Joe Biden signed a law that makes Juneteenth the 12th federally recognized legal holiday, the most recent since Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Fort Worth’s Opal Lee was there to witness her lifelong dream become reality. And this weekend, there are plenty of ways to celebrate in North Texas. Taylor Crumpton catalogued all those right here. Remember that celebrating Juneteenth goes beyond the holiday itself. “Juneteenth has to become something that grows from each day,” says Hopes. “Not just one day.”

Newsletter

Get a weekly recap in your inbox every Sunday of our best stories from the week plus a primer for the days ahead.

Find It

Search our directories for...

Restaurants

Restaurants

Bars

Bars

Events

Events

Attractions

Attractions

View All

View All

Comments