To honor the Juneteenth holiday (June 19), commemorating emancipation of enslaved African Americans, join the University as we remember those from our past who strived to create change, and support those who continue to push forward in the name of equality today.
From Professor of History Roy E. Finkenbine, in his book Sources of the African-American Past, on Juneteenth:
In the 1930s, the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration interviewed the last generation of American slaves before they passed. One of these was Felix Haywood, a 92-year-old resident of San Antonio, Texas. In this excerpt from his interview, he recounted the first Juneteenth, June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Texas and declared an end to slavery there.
“It’s a funny thing how folks always want to know about the War. The war weren’t so great as folks suppose. Sometimes you didn’t knowed it was goin’ on. It was the endin’ of it that made the difference. That’s when we all wakes up that somethin’ had happened…
“How did you know the end of the war had come?” asked the interviewer. “How did we know it! Hallelujah broke out — And I ain’t goin’ get whipped any more. I got my ticket, Leavin’ the thicket, And I’m a-headin’ for the Golden Shore!’
“Soldiers, all of a sudden, was everywhere — comin’ in bunches, crossin’ and walkin’ and ridin’. Everyone was a-singin’. We was all walkin’ on golden clouds. Halleluja!
“Union forever, Hurrah, boys, hurrah! Although I may be poor, I’ll never be a slave — Shoutin’ the battle cry of freedom.’
“Everybody went wild. We all felt like heroes and nobody had made us that way but ourselves. We was free. Just like that, we was free. It didn’t seem to make the whites mad, either. They went right on giving us food just the same. Nobody took our homes away, but right off colored folks started on the move. They seemed to want to get closer to freedom, so they’d know what it was — like it was a place or a city.”