Resource Center for Minority Data
Celebrating Juneteenth with Data and Resources from ICPSR
Tiffany Grant, PhD, CDE®
On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth an American federal holiday. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.
On June 19, 1865, two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, US Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order (3). The order began with following lines:
“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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer (1).”
Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been in effect since January 1, 1865, slavery remained in effect in places still under Confederate control. Thus, slaves in Texas remained as such due to the lack of Union troops in the state necessary to enforce the order from President Lincoln. Even after General Lee surrendered in April of 1865 effectively ending the American Civil War, slavery would not end in Texas until roughly 2 months later. Damani Davis, an archivist at the Nation Archives, stated that at that time in history, Texas was “relatively remote when considering the modes of transportation and communication in nineteenth-century America” (2). Thus, more troops were needed to enforce the order once the news was shared. The arrival of General Granger and his troops marked the day that influence would overcome the resistance to the end of the Civil War and marked the official end to slavery in the United States.
Reaction to the news was swift, as many who had been slaves just moments before left their plantations and former masters in efforts to grasp the freedom they had been granted for the first time in many of their lives. Although some enslavers withheld the information until after harvest season (3), celebrations were immediate among newly freed Black people, and Juneteenth was born. Juneteenth is a celebration freedom celebration in the Black community, much like the fourth of July is a celebration of freedom for the United States. The day has been celebrated annually on June 19th, since 1866 and is now an observed Federal Holiday.
Although we are 160 years beyond the Emancipation Proclamation, it is important to understand the significance of slavery in our nation’s history. Although a relatively new initiative of ICPSR, the Resource Center for Minority Data (RCMD) is a result of and a direct address to the changing racial and ethnic demographics of the US. The “mission for the Resource Center for Minority Data (RCMD) is to provide educators, researchers, and students with data resources so that they can produce analysis of issues affecting racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States”. (4)
In Celebrating Juneteenth with Data and Resources the RCMD from ICSPR aggregates data and resources that preserve the history and experiences of former slaves and their descendants (5). Through this resource, individuals can view the following:
- Quantitative Data Coded from the Federal Writers’ Project Slave Narratives, United States, 1936-1938
- The Data Related Publication entitled: A Culture of Disenfranchisement: How American Slavery Continues to Affect Voting Behavior.
- Recorded presentations from the University of Michigan’s Juneteenth Symposium, featuring keynote address by Opal Lee, the “Grandmother of Juneteenth”.
- A discussion of the book entitled: Black, Brown, Bruised: How Racialized STEM Education Stifles Innovation
- Video: On Why Race Still Matters: Ontological Commitments and Researching Without Numbers
- The Economics of American Negro Slavery Series containing data originally obtained from the notarized bills of sale at the New Orleans Notarial Archival Office, and probate records for southern counties obtained from the Genealogical Society library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- And many more…
- Juneteenth World Wide Celebration. https://www.juneteenth.com/.
- The Surprisingly Progressive Promises of General Order No. 3. Time https://time.com/6188864/general-order-3-juneteenth/.
- Nix, E. What Is Juneteenth? HISTORY https://www.history.com/news/what-is-juneteenth (2022).
- Mission Statement. https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/web/pages/RCMD/mission.html.
- Celebrating Juneteenth With Data & Resources From ICPSR. https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/web/pages/RCMD/news.html?node=3319.