Happy Juneteenth Day

Day 43 of Colourisation Project – June 19

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication. 

On June 19 the USA celebrates Juneteenth Day, an annual observance marking the anniversary of the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in 1865 nearly three years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

The term Juneteenth is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth. The anniversary is also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day. More information can be found here at the Juneteenth website

The Emancipation Proclamation was the work of Abraham Lincoln. Several years before he became President he worked towards this end and came to be known as The Great Emancipator. During the US Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863.  Texas however did not comply with the Emancipation Proclamation until nearly three years later.

The image of Abraham Lincoln below minus his famous beard, was taken before he became President and at a time during which Lincoln spoke out against the expansion of slavery in a series of seven highly publicized debates in 1858 between himself as Republican candidate and Senator Stephen Douglas, the Democratic Party candidate for the Senate in Illinois.

Photographer Abraham Byers ~ Abraham Lincoln 1858 ~ Colourised by Loredana Crupi

I would be out of my depth here and it is not really in the scope of this blog to comment on questions of racial equality in the USA as my knowledge of American history is limited. It must be noted however, that although Lincoln abhorred the concept of human slavery, he did hold white supremacist views which he declared during the debates. Thus his motives for abolishing slavery have been the subject of much debate amongst modern historians.  Was abolition merely a political measure to save the Union or was it a humanitarian gesture?

For many African Americans Juneteenth is seen as a de facto second Independence Day. Although Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states,  organizations like the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation are currently working towards making Juneteenth a national day of observance.

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“I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.

And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone.”   Abraham Lincoln – Debate at Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858

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