As Juneteenth’s observance is getting more attention and being adopted more widely as an official holiday, there’s growing attention to how people were held in slavery in Delaware even after the date commemorated as Juneteenth.
The holiday celebrates June 19, 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas bringing word that the Civil War had ended and any enslaved people were now freed via President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
But because Delaware was a border state between the North and South, Lincoln’s order did not apply to slaves in the First State. The last complete census in 1860 found 1,900 people living in slavery in Delaware. Most of those were in southern Delaware’s rural Sussex County, although smaller numbers were held throughout the state. Those still held in slavery on June 19 would not be freed until December of 1865 when the 13th Amendment was ratified.
“If we don’t educate ourselves and acknowledge the ugly history around race, we can’t begin to understand the anger and frustration that we’ve seen,” said Gov. John Carney Friday. He hosted an online forum on Juneteenth with Black leaders.
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