What’s Juneteenth?

The Juneteenth Celebration Festival, “Looking Back to Move Forward: Come Home Oberlin,” will be happening on Saturday, June 13, 2015 in Tappan Square (Downtown Oberlin, OH). The Juneteenth Bluesfest is the next weekend, June 21, from 3 pm to 7 pm at Lakeview Park in Lorain, OH on the beautiful Lake Erie shore. Both events will be filled with music, food, and vendors. I know some of you out there love this celebration and can’t wait to participate. I also have a feeling that some of you may be thinking to yourself “What exactly is Juneteenth?”. Well, let me to tell you!

3624486013_e5653ba77a_bJuneteenth commemorates a turning point in our nation’s history that took place just a few weeks after the end of the Civil War in 1865. June 19th is considered the day that the last enslaved persons in Texas were freed. That date is how this holiday gets its name: June + Nineteenth= Juneteenth! It was on that day that Union General Gordon Granger read aloud the contents of “General Order No. 3” to formally announce the emancipation of the slaves after he had arrived in Galveston Texas the day before with 2,000 federal troops. General Order No. 3 reads:

“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 personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

4742526685_bb87ec678b_zJuneteenth is a symbol of freedom and, although it’s roots are in Texas where the final order was read, is celebrated in several cities all over the United States.
North Central Ohio played a huge part in helping slaves reach freedom and safety, making Oberlin the perfect place to host a Juneteenth celebration. Lorain County was home to several paths along the Underground Railroad because of its direct access to the Central Basin of Lake Erie. Canada was seen as the Promised Land and final destination for many slaves while on their journey north, but many felt so safe Oberlin, OH that they chose to stay. That feeling of security was not unjustified, considering that no escaping slaves in Oberlin were ever caught and returned to slavery.

To learn more about Lorain County’s involvement in the Underground Railroad trail to freedom, check out this web page!

On the Trail to Freedom Brochure

On the Trail to Freedom

Visit Lorain County also has an amazing map for a self-guided tour of some of the most significant historical sites in Oberlin. You can download the map by clicking here.

posted by lorain at 10:10 am

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