Juneteenth marks end of slavery
Rockford holds its 28th annual Juneteenth event, while a Chicago group touting African-American businesses holds its first
By Ted Cox
Tuesday might be the last teen day of June, but Juneteenth celebrations continue through the weekend.
Juneteenth, of course, has come to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States. It grows out of an event in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived with word that the Confederacy had surrendered in the Civil War and bearing a proclamation known as General Order 3, which began:
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."
According to the Juneteenth National Registry, celebrations tend to focus on education and self-improvement, with rodeos and fishing common pursuits stemming from Juneteenth's Texas origins. The same goes for barbecue, with the barbecue pit the center of attention. Red foods like strawberry pie and soda are typically featured, as The New York Times reported that the color is "a symbol of ingenuity and resilience in bondage."
Gov. Bruce Rauner proclaimed Tuesday to be Juneteenth Day in a ceremony recognizing African-American businesses in the Advancing Development of Minority Entrepreneurs workshop at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, 2622 W. Jackson Blvd. "It is a privilege to celebrate Juneteenth with our African-American communities and work with them to encourage entrepreneurial development and promote a greater appreciation of the contributions that African Americans make to our culture and our commerce,” he said.
“Many of those freed by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation traveled to Illinois hoping for the promise of jobs and economic opportunity,” Rauner added. “They became an integral part of our state, which was the first to ratify the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in our nation."
For years, many African Americans made pilgrimages back to Galveston to mark the event, but Juneteenth has now spread across the land, with many events in Illinois, some of which took place last weekend, while others continue Tuesday and on through next weekend. Here are just some of the Illinois celebrations:
- Rockford holds its 28th annual Juneteenth celebration starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday and extending into the evening at the Sinnissippi Park Music Shell, 1401 N. 2nd St. Performers include music and comedians, with art and food vendors.
- The Black Ecosystem, promoting African-American businesses in Chicago, holds its first Juneteenth celebration this week. It holds a dinner and after party on the black renaissance at Truth Italian Restaurant, 56 E. Pershing Road, at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets are $10, $75 for the after party (location to be announced) at 11, with theme attire encouraged but not required. A discussion dinner will follow Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Norman's Bistro, 1001 E. 43rd St. Tickets for that are also $10.
- African-American businesses will also be the focus of a three-day Juneteenth celebration Friday through Sunday sponsored by Chicago's West Side Historical Preservation Society at Garfield Park, 3732 W. Madison St. Organizers expect 10,000 visitors a day, with 150 vendors.
- Talk about liberation from pain, Urbana Acupuncture in Lincoln Square Mall, 300 S. Broadway Ave., is offering free acupuncture for African Americans from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Appointments are recommended by calling (217) 344-9118.