Black women posing as Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter Credit: Adobe Stock Image

Another Black History Month has come and gone. And like the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that warned the leadership of the rebellious states in the south on September 22, 1862, that they had 100 days to return to the United States before President Lincoln freed the enslaved on January 1, 1863.

We now have 100 days before Texas Emancipation Day, a day inspired by the Book of Exodus – that people of African descent shall never forget the day they were set free and to celebrate the date with a feast.

The 19th of June is now a federal holiday. But some Black folks who migrated to other states for job opportunities, returned to have their family reunions in June. There are those who work for corporations that are not too eager to allow their employees off in the middle of the week. Many of these individuals celebrate emancipation on the Monday after the third Saturday in June.

I am lobbying all governmental agencies in Harris and Dallas County and the State of Texas to follow the lead of several states and the City of Austin, that celebrate Texas Emancipation Day on the Monday after the third Saturday in June. As you may or may not know, Travis County held the oldest celebration in Texas in 1866 with a political rally and the government served barbecue.

State of Texas employees maintain a three-tier holiday schedule. Our legislature made Texas Emancipation Day a state holiday in 1980, but it is an optional holiday, and the state does not pay when an optional holiday is on a Saturday or Sunday.

Since Black folks labored for free for over 250 years, the rebellious state of Texas that bans Black history and suppresses voter participation and has the largest penal system in the world with no reparations, could, at the very least, have a mandatory Texas Emancipation Day holiday with full pay including Saturdays and Sundays beginning in 2024.

I believe the federal government will follow Texas’ lead and make Emancipation Day an official annual holiday falling on either the Monday after the third Saturday in June or Friday before the third Saturday in June.

Sandra Crenshaw, a historian and genealogist, is a fifth-generation Texan with family ties in Goliad and Travis County, Texas.