On Tuesday, June 15, WMU-Cooley Law School held a virtual discussion titled Juneteenth Promises Made, Promises Delayed, Promises Kept. The historical overview of Juneteenth was hosted by WMU-Cooley Tampa Bay campus Visiting Professor Joseline Hardrick and featured keynote speaker Judge Cynthia Stephens of the Michigan Court of Appeals First District.
During the presentation, Hardrick, who is also founder and president of Diversity Access Pipeline Inc. (DBA Journey to Esquire®), which runs a scholarship and leadership program, podcast and blog, gave a historical overview of Juneteenth.
While explaining why Juneteenth, which celebrates the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States, Hardrick shared that it was on June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and announced enslaved people were now free.
Pictured: Joseline Hardrick
Hardrick said, “On July 4, 1776, America declared independence from British Rule, but did not extend freedoms to many of its residents. Citizenship was not granted to all natural born citizens until the 14th Amendment, after the Civil War. So once slavery was outlawed and the last slaves were informed, Juneteenth became known as a second Independence Day or Emancipation Day.”
While presenting the keynote, Stephens spoke about the delay in getting the news to Texas and how the delay foreshadows many other major civil rights events in the United States.
“The delay in getting the news to Galveston was occasioned, not just by how far away it was, because the news got to Alabama and Louisiana, right next door. It was delayed in part because of the priorities of the federal government. It likely would have been even later if not for the decision to reestablish control over the vital ports of Galveston,” said Stephens. “There are those who say like the Emancipation Proclamation itself, that the news got to Galveston not for the purpose of freeing the slaves, but for the primary purpose of preserving the Union and reestablishing the economy.”