Juneteenth marks end of slavery

Rockford holds its 28th annual Juneteenth event, while a Chicago group touting African-American businesses holds its first

Juneteenth celebrants pose for a photo in Texas in 1900. (Wikimedia Commons)

Juneteenth celebrants pose for a photo in Texas in 1900. (Wikimedia Commons)

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: