The Thing About Today – June 19

June 19, 2020
Day 171 of 366


June 19th is the 171st day of the year. It is World Sickle Cell Day, a day of awareness and information about the group of blood disorders that result in abnormalities in the oxygen-carrying protein hemoglobin found in red blood cells.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National FreeBSD Day, National Garfield the Cat DayNational Martini Day, National Watch Day, Wear BLUE Day (typically observed on the Friday before Father’s Day), National Take Back the Lunch Break Day (typically observed on the third Friday in June), and National Flip Flop Day (also typically observed on the third Friday in June).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1586, English colonists left Roanoke Island after failing to establish England’s first permanent settlement in North America.
  • In 1846, the first officially recorded and organized baseball game was played under Alexander Cartwright’s rules on Hoboken, New Jersey’s Elysian Fields. The New York Base Ball Club defeated the Knickerbockers by a score of 23–1. Cartwright served as umpire.
  • In 1862, the United States Congress prohibited slavery in United States territories, nullifying Dred Scott v. Sandford.
  • In 1903, baseball player Lou Gehrig was born.
  • In 1910, the first Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane, Washington.
  • In 1915, publisher and agent Julius Schwartz was born.
  • In 1922, Danish physicist, academic, and Nobel Prize laureate Aage Bohr was born. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1975 with Ben Mottelson and James Rainwater “for the discovery of the connection between collective motion and particle motion in atomic nuclei and the development of the theory of the structure of the atomic nucleus based on this connection”.
  • In 1926, mathematician and inventor Erna Schneider Hoover was born. She invented a computerized telephone switching method that revolutionized modern communication.
  • In 1934, the Communications Act of 1934 established the United States’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
  • In 1962, singer-songwriter, dancer, actress, and presenter Paula Abdul was born.
  • In 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approved after surviving an 83-day filibuster in the United States Senate.
  • In 1967, actress Mia Sara was born.
  • In 1978, actress Zoe Saldana was born.
  • In 1990, the current international law defending indigenous peoples, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989, was ratified for the first time by Norway.
  • In 1992, Batman Returns premiered.
  • In 2015, Inside Out premiered.
  • In 2018, the 10 millionth United States Patent was issued.


In 1865, over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, Texas were finally informed of their freedom, establishing a holiday known as Juneteenth.

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. It was formally issued on January 1, 1863, declaring that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were to be freed.

Planters and other slaveholders had migrated to the more geographically isolated Texas from eastern states to avoid the fighting, many of them bringing enslaved people with them. This increased the enslaved population of Texas by thousands, and by 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in the state.

News of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, which happened on April 9, 1865, reached Texas later in the month. The western Army of the Trans-Mississippi did not surrender until June 2nd, and by June 18th, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2,000 federal troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the federal government.

The following day, while standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, General Granger read aloud the contents of “General Order No. 3”, announcing the total emancipation of those held as slaves:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Even though the event is popularly thought of as “the end of slavery”, the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to those enslaved in Union-held territory. Those slaves would not be freed until a proclamation several months later after the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865.

The freedom of formerly enslaved people in Texas was given legal status in a series of Texas Supreme Court decisions between 1868 and 1874.

June 19th is still officially celebrated as Juneteenth in Texas. Every state in the Union except South Dakota and Hawaii recognizes the event.

(Despite what he says, the sitting president did not make the holiday famous. It has nothing to do with him.)


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.




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