DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – On June 19, 1865, Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger announced in Galveston the proclamation of slavery’s end in Texas.
More than a century later, Granger’s statement is celebrated with the holiday tradition known as Juneteenth.
Tuesday in Dallas, school children walked through a long-held exhibition, gazing at photographs of men and women who were the descendants of those slaves freed 153 years ago.
“It’s more than Juneteenth, it’s freedom,” local historian Donald Payton, told visitors to Dallas’ African American Museum.
Payton is one of many who helped procure family artifacts, heirlooms and photographs from families who settled in Dallas after Gen. Granger’s announcement of 1865. Freedman Town describes the enclave of black residents who lived and worked in an area now known to many as Uptown.
The primary location of acknowledgment of the area’s history sits along the west side frontage road of Central Expressway, between Lemmon and Hall Avenues. Freedman’s Cemetery holds the remains of thousands of freed slaves and their descendants, and the space is the city’s direct source of education about black life after the Texas declaration of emancipation. Payton is certain families highlighted in the long standing exhibit in the museum are the beneficiaries of the Juneteenth legacy- the yearly celebration, not unlike Independence Day.
In a small monitor on a wall, film recordings of Dallas Juneteenth parades document the celebratory spirit along Freedman’s Town streets. “Freedman’s Town started in the1860s, as blacks got the news they didn’t have to be slaves anymore,” he said.
The lasting remnants of Freedman’s Town had a visitor with a smart phone and a web blog, ready to stream to the world the living history behind Juneteenth. The woman who only refers to herself as Ms. Dew speaks directly into the phone camera. “
So, where I’m standing now is the African American cemetery”, she states. In an instant, Ms. Dew gets a shower of “hearts” flowing on her screen, and a viewer asking “Show us more.”
She pans her camera, directing the lens toward the Dallas downtown skyline, then pans across Central Expressway toward a still established neighborhood, built exclusively in the 1930’s for black residents.
Juneteenth’s legacy could be found across the eight lanes of traffic.
“It’s a day to remember who we are, and who we came from”, she said to her worldwide audience.”