Juneteenth 2011 at Aquia Landing, Stafford , VA
On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston Texas and read the following proclamation: "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere." Because slaves were forbidden from receiving an education, many could not grasp the concept of month, date and year. So the easiest way to remember this monumental day was to fuse June with Nine'teenth' to get "Juneteenth". Today, all over the country, celebrations large and small are held to celebrate the day that all enslaved African descended Americans finally won their freedom. Juneteenth's are traditionally educational gatherings. Required red food items include: red soda water, BBQ sauce, red velvet cake and watermelon. The color red signifies the sacrifice of those who came before us. Traditionally Juneteenth started as a pot luck. Each family would make a contribution by bringing one of their favorite dishes. Everyone would save the entire year to not only purchase the expensive lamb and pork chop items but they would also save up to buy the very best fabric to make new clothes. You see, Juneteenth was also a dress up day. Women would wear their best hat, and men their best suits. Juneteenth was a source of pride for the newly freed and they wanted to look their best while they ate their best. The first Juneteenth at historic Aquia Landing began with traditional African welcome dances. Special guests included the descendants of escaped slaves William and Ellen Craft and former Negro League Baseball players. The Juneteenth Celebration was sponsored by the Stafford County Tourism Department, 99.3 The Vibe, Wells Fargo Bank, Famous Dave's and the Moncure Conway Foundation.