MARY BENTON

Since 1979, Texas has celebrated the end of slavery on June 19. But on Galveston Island, the true meaning of Juneteenth goes back to 1865.

Doug Matthews of Galveston Island is dedicated to keeping the tradition alive on the island. He points out a statue dedicated to the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

It was on June 19, 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived and ordered a reading of the historic document signed by President Abraham Lincoln that freed all slaves.

Matthews mentioned that, although the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in 1863, it took 30 months for word to reach Texas. In subsequent years, former slaves and their descendants would commemorate the event with huge celebrations.

During Integration and the Civil Rights movement, the observation of June 19 diminished. But in 1979 Juneteenth became an official state holiday. And the next year, Texas had the first state-sponsored Juneteenth celebration on Galveston Island.