Such a heart wracking event
Bloomed yellow, green and red streams of gladness
Ribbons around a geographic pole
Unbridled dancing, hallelujahs.
Once long ago when Texas was the last remaining stronghold of the Civil War
black people toiled resigned in its fields
No one the wiser
Not most whites
The imbalance of nature hummed nicely
Though thoughts, wild thoughts
Caromed with force and vigor around the cranium of mind.
What color is freedom?
What crack whackery brought that lone horseman to the capital
His mount dusty, riding
Sweat stains lining his neck and pits
Didn’t ask for water
Tied up his hoss
Delivered his message:
The General is coming!
On Sunday, June 18, 1865 General Gordon Granger marched
1,800 Blue Coats into the island city of Galveston, largest in Texas,
On Monday, June 19, Granger issued General Orders No. 3.
Lincoln told him, “Better read it out loud,
Some of them don’t know how.”
In fact he read it several times around the city
At the market
At the Osterman building, Union Army headquarters
Over by the judiciary
Down on the wharf . . .
Two months previous, when Texas finally capitulated and was annexed by the Union
Granger took troop command of the District of Texas.
His first official act, read General Orders No. 3:
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.
Another day at work in the life of a career soldier.
A life-changing event for 250,000 enslaved black people …
Didn’t know they had been freed two years earlier.
Why so many?
By the time General Granger assumed command of the District of Texas,
the Confederate capital, Richmond, had fallen,
the executive mentioned in the order – President Lincoln – was dead, and the
13th Amendment abolishing slavery would soon be ratified.
Is it possible to have a second independence?
But the slaves weren’t free.
The ex-Confederate mayor of Galveston flouted the Army,
forced the freed people back to work,
In point of fact, after New Orleans fell to the Union Army in 1862,
slave owners in Mississippi and Louisiana and across the South effected their own trail of tears, a re-enactment of the Middle Passage, drove
150,000 slaves on a march to Texas,
Deemed the best place to work the economic engine of slavery.
Galveston was a hop and a sneeze from the Caribbean slave-trading islands
Privateers and smugglers used it as an outpost for their operations.
As long as the Confederate Army had control, there was no way to enforce Lincoln’s order.
What turns black to red?
Freedom came to Texas slaves two years later when the Confederacy finally surrendered
Time enough to harvest two cotton crops
When is free, free?
Spontaneous celebrations broke out among the freed slaves
Churches and homes, picnics and barbecues
What is the inside of red?
The color red became prominent
Partly because it is the color of blood and
Partly because it was a color of spiritual power among the Yoruba and Kongo peoples,
Shipped to the Caribbean and Gulf Coast long after the slave trade was outlawed in1807.
Red, a cultural reminder of the roots of the enslaved –
Barbecued ribs in red sauce,
Red velvet cake, red beans and rice, lemonade with fresh strawberries,
strawberry soda bottled and shipped from Milwaukee.
When does emancipation become freedom?
~ Sandra Rogers-Hare
Such an amazing story, and a beautifully written poem.
So much we never knew. Thank you, Sandra Rogers-Hare, for shedding a powerful light on this side of American history. Congratulations on the publication of this piece of thought-provoking writing. More people need to know about this part of hour history–and remember it.
Sandra, thank you for sharing your Juneteenth poem. Thank you for your informative timeline, and for the questions you pose. Most of all, thank you for teaching me more about this piece of history. I’m writing inside a friend’s home, listening to thunder roll and growl, appropriate sounds in reaction to your questions about freedom .
Wow, Sandy! This is beautifully written and educational. Thank you for sharing it.
This is beautiful and poignant. I am so glad that Juneteenth has become a national holiday. I was completely ignorant, having grown up in California and not being black.
Glory hallelujah! Thank you for your inspiration.
One of my favorite messages was: Love has no color.
Thank you Sandy. What an amazing story of justice delayed, rebellion suppressed and sadly, abuse sustained. The world is rife with displays of man’s inhumanity to men while the age old stories of suffering and incredible sacrifice go unwritten and less chronicled and rarely heralded. We all suffer and are left bereft.
Thank you, Sandra! How wonderful that art is being produced about Juneteenth. We learn and are moved by it. I recommend the documentary “Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom | A Documentary from @Our Daily Bread Voices Collection” on YouTube. It points out that the White enslavers knew good and well that Emancipation had been declared but they were not going to free their slaves until forced to do so. It took the presence of Union soldiers. Many of those soldiers were Black men. Think how it must have felt for the still-enslaved in Galveston to see Black men in positions of authority.
Alice & I just watched this recommended film. It left me emotional as I went back to reread Sandra’s poem a 3rd time – having to stop several times unable to continue.
Democracy Now included in yesterday’s “show” much on “Juneteenth” including a talk in the United Nations by Nicole Hanah-Jones https://www.democracynow.org/2022/6/20/no_atonement_no_repair_watch_nikole . She labeled “Jim Crow” to be “really Apartheid” – how I was raised – so far removed from any culture other than white Anglo-Saxon protestant that I am still reeling from my inability (in spite of efforts to reverse course) to be human. period. . I find myself being more spiritual than religious these days. Perhaps Alice has it right being atheist? She respects my being “the religious person in our coupling” as I respect her views. Perhaps religion can be measured in terms of positive changes over the centuries – certainly not in absolutes – not for me – not any more. Thank you for your poem Sandra. Having served at Fort Sam Houston and lived in San Antonio for about 10 years, I more appreciate Texas from your poem alone beyond the “other” current events going on in Texas now where they “reserve the right to succeed from the union” still! ??? one foot in front of the other – we Love Forever With Each Passing Day’s Ongoing Progression In Our Higher Power doing the best we can with the knowledge we have, the upbringing we have had, the fortune we were born into (or not), the location in the world we are in and the time we were born into. Everything is fluid, changing, may we have the positive thoughts if not prayers that make our world better individually to globally!
Sandy, You know I love you and our shared upbringing made me aware of Juneteenth Day seven decades ago. However knowledge is intellectual. Your Poem is spiritual and beautiful. I shared it on my Facebook Page so my friends who did not share our upbringing could read it.