It is not enough to celebrate freedom if we can not understand the meaning of freedom. No person is truly free unless they can read and write.

It is the goal of the Juneteenth Education Initiative to provide support services and learning opportunities that incorporate the history of Juneteenth into the school curriculum. In addition, NJOF believes that all Americans, students should have access to a complete education.  NJOF defines a student as an individual of any age who desires to learn.   Rather than dwell on the inconsistency and disproportionate education system, NJOF offers a solution.  The NJOF Education Initiative will:


The NJOF Education Initiatives needs your help. We welcome your thoughts and ideas as to what is needed to promote education in your family or community. If you are interested in volunteering send an email to to tell us your ideas and how you can help.

Juneteenth 101


The March to Juneteenth

June 19, 1862, to June 19, 1866



“On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln accepted the Republican nomination for President of the United States. The election of 1860 was one of the most pivotal presidential elections in American history. The main issue of the election was slavery and states’ rights. Lincoln emerged victorious and became the 16th President of the United States. Abolitionist and American treasure Frederick Douglass, in his capacity as the 1st Black Presidential-Elector, NY stated,” Slaveholders know the day of their power is over when a Republican President is elected.”


In an attempt to form their own country (in order to protect the institution of slavery) eleven southern slave-holding states formed an alliance, called the Confederacy, and seceded from the United States in 1861.  “The War Between the States,” began in April 1861, when South Carolinians (members of the Confederate States of America) launched an attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. The Confederacy was initially formed by seven secessionist slave-holding States South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—in the Lower South region of the United States, whose economy was heavily dependent upon agriculture, particularly cotton, and a plantation system that relied upon the labor of African-American slaves. After the Civil War began, four other states-Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina joined the Confederacy to maintain their rights to hold slaves captive as free labor. Hence the bloodiest war in America’s history ensued.


“We have dissolved the late Union chiefly because of the negro quarrel … We have called our negroes ‘slaves’, and we have recognized and protected them as persons and our rights to them as property.” Stated Robert Hardy Smith, in an Address to the Citizens of Alabama on the Constitution and Laws of the Confederate States of America in 1861.


Frederick Douglass argued that the enlistment of black soldiers would help the North win the war and would be a huge step in the fight for equal rights: “Once [you] let the black man get upon his person the brass letters, U.S.; let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket,” Douglass said, “and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.” Ultimately, sixteen African American soldiers won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their brave service in the fight for their freedom during the Civil War.



June 19th

CHAPTER CXI–An Act to secure Freedom to all Persons within the Territories of the United States.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled that from and after the passage of this act there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the Territories of the United States now existing, or which may at any time hereafter be formed or acquired by the United States, otherwise than in punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

SIGNED and APPROVED, by President Abraham Lincoln, June 19, 1862.







It was on September 22, 1862, that the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, proclaiming January 1, 1863, the day that “all persons held as slaves within ANY state … thenceforth and FOREVER FREE, and the Executive Government of the United States (and entities thereof) will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons; and will do no act or acts to repress such person in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom (and the celebration thereof).








A NEW ERA has begun!


Lincoln used the war powers of the presidency to issue the Emancipation Proclamation re-ordering the freedom of all enslaved people in the areas “in rebellion” (the Confederacy) declaring … “”All persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States,  including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”


The mandate did not exempt border states and those areas of slave states not in rebellion and therefore beyond the reach of the constitutional war power to emancipate its enslaved people. However, as soon as the Union Army arrived, it did liberate the enslaved in that area. On the first day, it affected tens of thousands of enslaved people.


Some blacks took this as their cue to begin forming infantry units of their own.


These unofficial regiments were officially mustered into service in January 1863.


They formed the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first black regiment to be raised in the North.









July 1863 was an extraordinarily bloody and decisive month, beginning with a three-day confrontation between General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac around the Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. On the 4th, the Confederates suffered defeat at Helena, Ark., and, more important, surrendered the essential Mississippi River stronghold of Vicksburg.

Black and Native American soldiers outnumbered whites in an overlooked July 1863 clash in what is now Rentiesville, Oklahoma

The Battle of Honey Springs, the climatic engagement of the Civil War in Indian Territory, was fought on July 17, 1863, and had been in the making since the beginning of the war. Then, as part of an overall plan for conquering the Confederacy, Federal forces invaded Indian Territory.

July 18, the 54th Massachusetts stormed Fort Wagner, which guarded the Port of Charleston, SC. It was the first time in the Civil War that African American troops led an infantry attack. Unfortunately, the 600 men of the 54th were outgunned and outnumbered-were killed. This is the storyline for the movie “Glory.”

July 30, Lincoln legislative order forbids mistreatment of African American Prisoners of War (POWs



August 10, Frederick Douglass (Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey) After escaping from slavery in Maryland he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York. He was a living counter-example to slaveholder’s arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Even Northerners found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been enslaved. Douglass meets with Lincoln to recruit and gather support for the unequal pay and treatment of Black soldiers. The U.S. Army paid black soldiers $10 a week (minus a clothing allowance, in some cases), while white soldiers got $3 more (plus a clothing allowance, in some cases). Congress passed a bill authorizing equal pay for black and white soldiers in 1864.





























After four long bloody years, the Confederate army’s stronghold surrendered to the United States in April of 1865.  The war bankrupted the South, and all but wiped out an entire generation of men leaving more than 620,000 men dead; more than any other war in American history.  But when the war ended, in April 1865, only about fifteen percent (15%) of the enslaved had actually been freed.

Black Soldiers in the Civil War

According to the National Archives:

“By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war-30,000 of infection or disease. Black soldiers served in artillery and infantry and performed all noncombat support functions that sustain an army, as well. Black carpenters, chaplains, cooks, guards, laborers, nurses, scouts, spies, steamboat pilots, surgeons, and teamsters also contributed to the war cause. There were nearly 80 black commissioned officers. Black women, who could not formally join the Army, nonetheless served as nurses, spies, and scouts.


 June 19, Galveston, TX Juneteenth!

The enslaved people in Texas didn’t get the word until June 19, 1865. The state’s Government simply chose not to be in compliance with Federal law and opted instead to conceal the Executive mandate by coalescing with the elite plantation owners, who for the most part was the aristocracy of the time, known as The Planter Society, to facilitate the harvesting of their cotton. Freedom was not known until Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX on June 18th with more than 4,000 United States Colored Troops USCT.  On June 19th, 1865, Granger issued General No.3 advising all, that slaves had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and it was posted on the door of Reedy Chapel. Thus, began what is now known as Juneteenth. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. The celebration not only commemorates African American freedom throughout America, but Juneteenth also emphasizes education and achievement internationally. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics, and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement, and planning for the future. It had to be providence for USCT’s arrival in Galveston, as they were on their way as a show of force to the Texas-Mexico border against a French incursion, to deliver the news of freedom.



December 31/January 1, first formal, organized Juneteenth




January 1, Freedom Day Celebration in Galveston Texas



Regarding the four major treaties that were negotiated and formally signed in 1866 – one with the Cherokee, the Creek, the Seminole, and a combined treaty with the Chickasaw and Choctaw. These treaties each contained four major provisions. To begin with, as punishment for aiding the Confederate rebellion, each tribe forfeited lands amounting to about half of their designated protected territory.  The second provision of these treaties declared a general amnesty for all Native Americans


The final two provisions concerned ending slavery. Language identical to that in the 13th Amendment was written into each treaty, guaranteeing a final end to the institution of slavery the final provision provided for the adoption of all freed slaves as immediate and recognized citizens within their respective tribes.





HISTORIC JUNETEENTH SUMMARY: Texas was the last state in rebellion, following the end of the Civil War, to allow enslavement. Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation was not announced in the last state practicing enslavement until Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas and issued General Order #3, on June 19, 1865, “JUNETEENTH,” almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. JUNETEENTH is now an annual observance to celebrate the date Union soldiers enforced the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all remaining enslaved in Texas and surrounding territories.


Modern Juneteenth Movement

In 1994, the era of the “Modern Juneteenth Movement” began when a group of Juneteenth leaders from across the country gathered in New Orleans, LA, at Christian Unity Baptist Church, Rev. Dwight Webster, Pastor, to work for greater national recognition of Juneteenth. The historic meeting was convened by Rev. John Mosley, Director of the New Orleans Juneteenth Freedom Celebration. Several national Juneteenth organizations were ignited from this historic gathering including the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF). Shortly prior to this gathering, Juneteenth America, Inc., (JAI) was founded by John Thompson, who organized the first National Juneteenth Convention & Expo, and the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (NJCF) founded by Ben Haith, the creator of the National Juneteenth Flag.


In 1997, through the leadership of Lula Briggs Galloway, President of the NAJL and Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Chairman of the NAJL, the U.S. Congress officially passed historic legislation recognizing Juneteenth as “Juneteenth Independence Day” in America.


As of 2019, 46 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to officially recognize Juneteenth. The NJOF directly contributed to 43 states legislation.  The annual Congressional Juneteenth Reception and National Juneteenth Prayer Breakfast are now a Washington D.C. tradition.




NJOF Education Committee


Dr. Phyllis Tucker-Wicks – Child\Youth Studies curriculum development

Dr. C. Sade Turnipseed – Mississippi Valley State University

Calvin Pearson – Project 1619

Ron Brown – Pennsylvania Juneteenth

Deborah “Dee” Evans – NJOF Vice-Chair

Carl Adams – Author Trials of Nance

Sade Roberts-Joseph – OSW African American Museum

Helen Sims – Culture & Heritage Museums Mississippi

Elijah Haith – Juneteenth Connecticut

Deborah Kelly – Pennsylvania Juneteenth

Rosetta Funches – Oklahoma Black Museum and Performing Arts Center

Steve Williams – NJOF President




Dr. Charles A. Taylor



Dorscine S. Spigner-Littles, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus University of Oklahoma


NJOF Founder and Chairman

Late Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr. M.D.