Enslaved African-Americans in Texas didn’t learn they’d been freed until weeks after the Civil War officially ended — when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to break the news.
Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Grant in April, 1865, but Confederate generals in Texas kept fighting for weeks, well into June. That’s when General Granger was sent to quell the unrest and tell the formerly enslaved that they were free — that they were now, as historian Annette Gordon-Reed wrote, on “the same plane of humanity with white people.” The date was June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation — a day that we now call Juneteenth. In her new book, On Juneteenth, Gordon-Reed recounts her personal story of the holiday in Texas, and charts the continuing hardships that African Americans face in the United States. As a Texas native, a descendent of enslaved people and a historian, she joins us Friday at noon to share her unique perspective on the important role that African-Americans played in the Texas story.