Taking place every year on June 19, Juneteenth is “the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.” It is now also the nation’s newest federal holiday.
Juneteenth dates back to June 19, 1865, the date that Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas and shared the news that the war had ended and that enslaved people were now free.
Two and a half years earlier, President Abraham Lincoln has issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that, as of January 1, 1863, “all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
However, according to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, this gap in time between the Emancipation Proclamation and Juneteenth is because the new law couldn’t be implemented in places still under Confederate control. “As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later.” Finally, on June 19, 1865, “some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay” and “announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were free by executive decree.”
This week, Music 101 honors Juneteenth with a special program exploring the connection between slavery and the blues – busting myths about the origin of what we know as the blues, but also showing where the connection holds true.
In each episode of Music 101, your host Margot highlights a different chapter in music history, bringing you songs you love and the stories behind them.
Listen to Music 101 on the Colorado Sound every Sunday at 10am MT, with the same episode repeated Wednesday at 8pm MT.
You can also hear recent episodes on our Music 101 show page.