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City of Greensboro to host all-day virtual Juneteenth event

Friday marks 155 years commemorating Juneteenth, the effective end of slavery in the U.S. The city will honor the day with a series of programs.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — For the first time, the city of Greensboro will officially recognize June 19 as Juneteenth with a full day of virtual events for the community.

The day will start at 9 a.m. with the reading of a resolution declaring Juneteenth in the city.

The resolution states the city wants to celebrate "African-American heritage, history, freedom, and culture with events and ceremonies which reflect the power of community, family, art, and tradition in the face of oppression."

A schedule of events is listed here. They will be streamed on the city of Greensboro's Facebook page.

To understand the history behind the day we have to go back to January 1, 1863. That was when Abraham Lincon declared that "all persons held as slaves shall be free" with the Emancipation Proclamation.

"We were still in the midst of a Civil War. The legal president at the time says slavery has ended. And so it depended on whoever won that war. If the Union forces win the war, they can enforce it," Rodney Dawson, Curator of Education with the Greensboro History Museum said.

It would take however more than two years for word of the Emancipation Proclamation to reach the enslaved in Texas. 

"The people are saying that the messengers they sent were killed. I've heard that the plantation owners got the word but didn't want to pass it on because they want to retain that labor," Dawson said. "And then I also heard that Union forces made a deal with some of these plantation owners and said hey we will let you reap one more harvest."

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger announced from a balcony in Galveston Texas, that the Civil war had ended and the nearly quarter-million enslaved were now free. Again, this was two years after the Proclamation.

Rodney Dawson said there weren't enough Union soldiers in Texas before Granger's arrival to enforce the order.

Following Granger's announcement, many of the enslaved left the state to be with the rest of their families taking a dangerous walk to get there.

Dawson referred to that as a faith walk and likened it to what we are seeing today with people protesting against racial injustice.

"You see the marches. You see the movement that's galvanizing not just African-Americans but people of all demographics. We are taking that faith walk [together] and that's what Juneteenth means," Dawson said.

Juneteenth, June 19th is a celebration from slavery to freedom.

Dawson said he hopes people will take the day to learn that many African Americans still don't feel free. 

"I hope people are educated. I hope it brings tolerance. I hope it inspires someone," Dawson said.

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