Juneteenth, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, commemorating June 19, 1865 when the abolition of slavery was announced and enforced in the state of Texas, over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. Isaac and Rosa, emancipated slave children, from the Free Schools of Louisiana; cabinet card photograph by M.H. Kimball, 1863. NYHS Image #78327d.
Liberated slaves were treated as contraband or captured property at this time. The confiscation act of 1861 allowed seizing Confederate property but did not clarify the fate of captured slaves. One Union general gained notoriety for general order No. 11 which freed all slaves in areas under his control. President Lincoln countermanded this order amid concerns of the political consequences in four slave holding border states that remained in the Union.
Watch Night Service, or Freedom's Eve, started on December 31, 1862 as Black people gathered to wait news about slavery being over. January 1, 2013 is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation that legally ended slavery.
From the UK Guardian, "How the end of slavery led to starvation and death for millions of Black Americans: In the brutal chaos that followed the civil war, life after emancipation was harsh and often short, new book argues," by Paul Harris New York, on 16 June 2012. Downs's book is full of terrible vignettes about the individual experiences of slave families who embraced their freedom from the brutal plantations on which they had been born or sold to.
Harriet Tubman became famous as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad during the turbulent 1850s. Born a slave on Maryland's eastern shore, she endured the harsh existence of a field hand, including brutal beatings. In 1849 she fled slavery, despite a bounty on her head, she returned to the South at least 19 times to lead her family & hundreds of other slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Tubman also served as a scout, spy and nurse during the Civil War. #tubman
American pacifist James Zwerg after being beaten by a mob in Montgomery, Alabama in 1960 as part of the Freedom Riders. Zwerg volunteered to leave the bus first upon arriving in Montgomery, knowing he’d be the blunt of the violent crowd’s aggression. He would have died that day if an anonymous black man hadn’t stepped in and saved his life by deflecting the mob’s attention to himself.
La Mulâtresse Solitude (1772-19 November 1802), was a slave rebel and heroine of the fight against slavery in Guadeloupe. Originally a slave, she was freed by the abolition of slavery in 1794 during the French revolution. When slavery was reintroduced on Guadeloupe by Napoleon in 1802, she joined Louis Delgrès call to fight for her freedom and took part in the Battle of the 18 May 1802. She was captured and executed by hanging after being granted to wait out her pregnancy.