June 19, 1865
The people lingered on the plantation unsure of what the day would bring. Many fidgeted with uneasiness and others were planning on the best way to escape should the day bring about terror as done before. They had been told early that morning that there would be an announcement come noon.
Neva, a young slave girl, stood holding her daughter close to her body. Her skin was the color of dark chocolate, her body was short and petite, she had a long braid going down the center of her back, and dark eyes filled with strength. She prayed that this would not be the last day she would see her daughter. Each day they had together was a blessing from the universe. Many of her children were sold long ago. If the day should be their last, she had prepared her well to survive, but that would not ease the hurt.
“What’s happening, Mama,” her daughter Betty asked, looking just like a mini version of her.
Just then, a man rode up on a horse bringing many others with him. The slave master stood on the porch with his wife, both faces were twisted in anger.
“Shhhh baby, let’s hear what’s going on,” Neva ordered.
The man got off his horse and looked at all of the people. It was a shame that even after being free for over two years, these were the last to find out. It was terrible how that information was withheld from them. Some say the messenger was killed and others say it was done deliberately to get another crop of cotton. Either way it was just plain wrong.
“I come with news from General Granger,” he spoke loud enough for them to hear.
Murmurs could be heard throughout the crowd. What could he possibly have for them to hear?
“As per General Order 3, 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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.” He began to read off the paper.
Gasps could be heard throughout the crowd. Many cried, many shouted, and many stood in disbelief. Their dreams and prayers had finally been answered.
“What’s going on mama,” Betty asked her mother.
“We’re free baby,” she lifted her up as much as she could with tears falling down her face.
People started rushing off to get their belongings. Many unsure of where they would go next, but knew the plantation life was not for them.
“Where are you going,” the slave master yelled, “There’s nothing out there for you people!”
“That may be, but there’s nothing here for us either,” a man named William yelled before walking off with the others. He was a large muscular man with skin the color of molasses.
As Neva and Betty gathered their belongings, they heard music playing. Stopping to look outside of their shack they saw people gathering around in celebration. Food was being brought out of houses and combined to make a big spread for everyone.
“Can we join them mama,” Betty looked up with hopeful eyes.
“Of course, they’ll always be our family,” Neva smiled down with tears still in her eyes.
They both ran out and joined in the laughter and dancing.
Soon Neva felt strong arms around her. Turning she saw William with that smile she had come to love. They had been quietly seeing each other for quite some time now and shared many meals together as a family.
“We’re free now baby, you know what that means,” he asked.
With her words lost, she merely shook her head.
“Today we finally get married and then me, you, and my new daughter is headed north to start our new lives.”
And get married they did, surrounded by all of their newly freed brothers and sisters.
When it was time to leave, William stood embracing Neva and Betty.
“We’re finally free,” she whispered.
“So we don’t have to live here anymore,” Betty asked fearfully.
“No baby, we’re free,”William lifted her up and tickled her, “but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
With one last look, they then joined the others walking up the road to a new freeish way of living.
This short contains the exact beginning of General Order 3 that was instructed to be read announcing the end of slavery in Texas. Also, the names listed in this short, Neva, Betty, and William are all relatives of mine. My grandparents and mother. Although they were not actually there I thought it would be cool to incorporate their names in the story. Let me know in the comments what you think and if it interests you enough to want to see more shorts like this on here. Thank you for reading!