(KTAL) SHREVEPORT, La- On January 1st, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery and declaring over 3.5 million black slaves held in Confederate states to be freed. The Civil War was not yet over and some slave owners began to move slaves to Texas in hopes that the Confederate Army would eventually win the war. The slave owners wanted to wait until the anticipated Confederate victory to return to Texas to get their ‘property back’.
It was two years later when the Confederate Armies surrendered, ending the Civil War. For those 2 years after 1863 all Confederate state slaves were still considered free. However, black men and women continued to work for plantation owners. Unfortunately, the good news did not travel so fast and wasn’t until 1865 that black men and women in Texas we’re notified that they we’re no longer slaves or property and were free. But, some weren’t free until two months after that because plantation owners wanted to make sure they had their crops harvested.
So what is so significant about the day June 19th? Union General Gordon Granger and other Union soldiers rode into Galveston, Texas to see black people still being held as slaves. So Gen. Granger made the announcement that they were to be freed, and if they wanted to stay they could but plantation owners would have to pay them wages.
This freed more than 250 thousand black men and women in the state of Texas. Unfortunately, slavery was still legal in the union border states ( Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, and Kansas). But, all that change on December 6, 1865 when the 13th Amendment was signed abolishing non-penal slavery.
Blacks were still subjected to oppression, poverty, and other tools of systemic racism meant to stifle the advancement of black people. Today we sat down with Willie ‘Scooter Man Pro’ Burton to tell us what it means to be a black man in America… 155 years later.