Ruth Naomi Floyd

Oh, Freedom: Words & Music on Juneteenth

By Ruth Naomi Floyd

“And are we yet alive to see each other’s face.”

—an African prisoner of the forced labor system of American Slavery

History would say that the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863 ended American chattel slavery, thereby changing the legal status of the African prisoners of that forced labor system for good. Yet what is actually true is that emancipation on that day only freed the African slaves in the Confederate states. Slavery remained alive and well in Texas, due to the lack of the presence of Union troops whose responsibility it was to enforce the proclamation. Because Texas held onto slavery, many slaveholders relocated there along with their slaves and the slave population in Texas increased by tens of thousands.

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