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Monday, June 21, 2021   (0 Comments)
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By Sarah Calfee, San Diego SHRM Vice President of Programs


Juneteenth. June 19, 1865. Not a day of changed legislature. Not a day of riot. Not a day of religious ceremony. Then why does it matter? Because that was the day that the last confederate state received news that slavery was finally deemed illegal. The Emancipation Proclamation, outlawing slavery in all Confederate states , was signed by Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862. But it took nearly two years for Texas to receive the news.

Celebration of Juneteenth started way back then. And, while the celebrations are large in some areas, many people had never heard of it until this past year. In 2020, it came again as usual. Only that time it was in the middle of incredible civil unrest due to the horrifying murder of George Floyd and subsequent related events.

One year later, Juneteenth has been declared a federal holiday. No, this is not simply another
day that federal employees get a paid day off. It is a day of acknowledgment of part of our
American history – part of our journey to correct wrongs, part of our journey to make the
United States a place of freedom and opportunity for everyone. Recognizing the significance of
this day is one of the many steps that Americans need to take in order to keep moving this
process forward.

Below is some detail about the ultimate abolishment of slavery in the United States.
September 22, 1862 Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln

  • It was a presidential proclamation and executive order.
  • Effective January 1, 1863.
  • Changed the legal status under federal law of more than 3.5 million enslaved African
  • Americans in the United States from slave to permanently free.
  • Applied only to the Confederate states that the Union was at war with for the Civil War.
  • Union states had already abolished slavery.
  • Six border states that were not fighting against the Union yet still had slavery (Maryland,
  • Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia, Delaware, and Kentucky) were excluded from the
  • Proclamation.
    • All but Delaware and Kentucky initiated their own abolishment of slavery before
    • the end of the Civil War.
    • Delaware and Kentucky eventually had slavery abolished under the 13th
    • Amendment.
  • Confederate states: President – Jefferson Davis
    • Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia
  • Union States: President – Abraham Lincoln
    • Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, California, Nevada, Oregon

It was not until after the end of the civil war and 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation
for the news of both to reach Texas, in the city of Galvaston. Texas was the last confederate
state forced to comply with the Emancipation Proclamation.

The 13th amendment was subsequently passed by two-thirds vote in Congress on January 31,
1865, ratified on December 6, 1865. This amendment prohibited slavery in all states of the
Union, including any potential future states and any other territories falling under US

The Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment did not end the oppression of African
Americans and other people of color in the United States. More amendments have been
needed, more laws. As we acknowledge our historical successes in creating change, we help
pave the way for continued growth in awareness and compassion that will lead to more

San Diego Society of Human Resource Management, Chapter 130
325 W. Washington Street #2355  |  San Diego, CA 92103  
(866) 632-1492 •