Everett Public Libraries to welcome Dr. Zebulon Vance Miletsky for Juneteenth talk

On Wednesday, June 26, in celebration of Juneteenth, the Everett Public Libraries will welcome a guest speaker to discuss the holiday. Dr. Zebulon Vance Miletsky, an Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Stony Brook University, and author of the book Before Busing: A History of Boston’s Long Black Freedom Movement will discuss the history of Juneteenth and the reasons why it has become a national holiday—and how it has been celebrated in Texas since 1865–first becoming a state holiday in Texas as early as 1980.

Dr. Miletsky will discuss the arrival of Union troops in Galveston, Texas under the command of Major General Gordon Grainger on June 19th, 1865 that slavery ended in America—well after the Emancipation Proclamation as well as the passage of the 13th Amendment in January of that year, which was still in the process of being ratified. He will talk about the fact that the enslaved persons still being held in bondage in Texas had to be liberated at bayonet point by General Granger and his troops, who issued an order asserting the Union Army’s authority over the state of Texas based on the authority of the Emancipation Proclamation written a full two and a half years earlier—even though its author, President Lincoln had already been assassinated and the Civil War had officially ended.

Juneteenth is also the key to understanding “the new Jim Crow”–forcing us to rethink the periodization of the end slavery–and the fact that there has never been a clear date for the ending of slavery. This suggests something about the ongoing nature of abolition, de-enslavement and reconstruction, which continues to this day.

Miletsky will also discuss the history of other, longer celebrations of emancipation in the Northeast and New England which were celebrating emancipation well before 1863–namely in Massachusetts and the greater Boston-area. African Americans in Boston had their own emancipation celebrations including “watch night” traditions which are still observed in many Black Churches today, including newer local celebrations of the ending of slavery.

The presentation will take place at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, June 26th in the Parlin Memorial Library Meeting Room. Please call 617-394-2300 with any questions.

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