On this island called Galveston, Texas, African-Americans have a unique position in the history of the world. Natives of this city, and incoming residents, who were people of color, were the pioneers of much of the civilization that occurred in this part of the world. “Juneteenth” has become a term used by persons all over the nation who recognize the validity of the term now synonymous with freedom of the former black-skinned slaves. This term comes from the fact that, in Galveston, Texas, General Granger arrived by ship with orders that were read to the public at Ashton Villa on June 19, 1865. He actually arrived in the harbor on June 17, 1865, and the news leaked out from the deckhands on that date. But the dates are both worthy of the title “Juneteenth”, which is the way the former slaves passed down the news to their progeny.
This news came from the official document called the Emancipation Proclamation, which was a law signed by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, and sent to the southern states involved in the Confederacy. So Texas was the first of these states to receive this law, and Galveston was the entry port, and therefore had the distinction of being the first place to embrace the freedom of persons of color in the southern part of the new United States of America.
There were free men and women of color in Galveston before this announcement was made, so the progress of the city toward racial harmony was already underway. Pioneers of all kinds of institutions and businesses came from Galveston. It is no accident that Galveston has been a city of “firsts”. The titles of “first” have been proven for the state of Texas, because these were recorded and documented in many journals and publications.
Some visionaries of African descent have been recorded by name, but since the freed persons of color usually could not read or write (they were forbidden to learn to read or write in slavery), there is little written from their perspective. It is the purpose of this book to reveal what was written by a man of color, my grandfather, who came to Galveston with his family as a small child, immediately after freedom was declared. His words are proven to be true by later documentation of official sources in the city. In addition, recorded words of interviews with numbers of citizens who were alive when this book was begun have been used and preserved on audio tapes.
Quite a number of persons who contributed to this book were African-Americans who were imported to Galveston for the sole purpose of educating its segregated citizens in their churches and schools. Until now, this story, told from the perspective of the persons who lived it, has been untold. Because of its far-reaching effects in the whole world, this story fairly screams to be acknowledged and revealed. It is with great excitement that I bid you to indulge yourself in the luxury of discovery!