Happy Juneteenth celebrations to those who celebrate and/or observe the day, and to encourage those who don't know about it to learn about the holiday and its importance. Please note there are also extensive links for research at AfriGeneas, linked below, including the text of the Emancipation Proclamation itself.
In honour of the day, with kind permission of the author, a poem by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, publishedat AfriGeneas for Juneteenth 2004:
Free at Last, a poem for Juneteenth
General Granger brought the news to Galveston:
'The war is over! '
The Emancipation Proclamation has declared,
'All who live in bondage here shall be free.'
Every year in the land of the Lone Star State,
Resounding from sea to sea,
the sons and daughters of those who were held
shout: , 'Free at Last, Hallelujah, I'm free.'
Leaving their shackles where they fell on the ground,
after 300 years of forced bondage; hands bound,
descendants of Africa picked up their souls
departed for the nearest resting place.
Some went no further than the shack out back
hard ground for a bed hard labor to stay alive
Them that stayed said, 'This is my home
Even though I can't really call it my own.'
Some went to the nearest place of worship
perhaps to a clearing in the grove
or some hollow place in the underbrush
Said 'Jesus, Thank you for delivering me'.
Some ran as fast as they could
into the service of another man
Working for a meager pittance
one backbend short of being a slavehand.
Some went to the closest speakeasy
toasted the Union and Lady Luck,
patted each other on their whip-marked backs,
drank themselves into oblivion.
Some swam the way of the river
following the Rio Grande or the up-flowing Mississip
Hastening to get as far away as they could
Thrusting their futures into unknown sanctuary.
Some went straight to the promise land,
heart couldn't take this earthly joy no more.
Some kept running forever
like a stone unable to grasp the firmity.
No matter where they went
They said, 'I an where my soul wants to be'.
I will always remember; I will never forget
Now I can shout 'Hallelujah, I'm free'