MID-HUDSON – It was on June 19, 1865 that General Gordon Granger led thousands of federal troops to Galveston, Texas to announce the Civil War had ended and slaves had been freed.
Juneteenth marks the first time in history that state employees have the day off as per a declaration by Governor Cuomo, who plans to introduce legislation to make the day a state holiday.
That is welcomed news to Tyrone Wilson, the Ulster County human rights commissioner.
“If you want to compare it to anything, it is considered as people of color, your independence day,” he said. “As you know, 1865, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that stated that enslaved Africans are free; they don’t have to be slaves anymore.”
Several communities in the region are marking the historic date. In Kingston, the Harambee organization will celebrate is fourth annual Juneteenth event, this time on Saturday, June 20. Because of the continued COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be live on Harambee’s Facebook page from 1 p.m. to 1 p.m. at www.facebook.com/harambeekingstonny .