Wrong date to celebrate

I have been following with interest the Pullman City Council’s planning regarding artwork on the Spring Street retaining wall. I am supportive of including a End Racism Now mural and an opportunity for other positive statements contributing to the betterment of the community.

The Pullman City Council and members of the Pullman Arts Commission are reasonably intelligent people trying to make the correct decisions. Thus, I was surprised at the lack of historical facts mentioned in the March 10 article.

I strongly object to selecting June 19 as a day celebrating the end of slavery. Nothing could be further from the truth. President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was a September 1862 Executive Order that stated that on Jan. 1, 1863, the legal status under U.S. federal law regarding enslaved African Americans in the secessionist Confederate states changed from enslaved to free. It had no force of law in the Confederate states because they were, at the time, not part of the Union. However, at the time, four slave holding states, and ultimately West Virginia, that stayed in the Union were allowed to keep slaves. None were freed in Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky and ultimately West Virginia.

On June 19, 1865, the people of Houston were told that the president had freed their slaves in January 1863. The proclamation did not have the force of law in Texas until the state rejoined the Union on March 30,1870.

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude except for punishment of a crime. This Amendment was ratified by 27 states of 36 on Dec. 6, 1965, and proclaimed on Dec. 18, 1865. This is when all people in the United States were free. This is the date that needs to be celebrated, not the nonevent of June 19.

Frank Kirkbride


Recommended for you