GALVESTON, Texas – General Order Number 3 was issued by Union General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, two years after the original issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.
It was the general order within the Emancipation Proclamation that freed all remaining enslaved people in the state of Texas.
For many, this is an emotional time in our nation’s history, including Tommie Boudreaux, Galveston Historical Foundation’s Chair of African American Heritage.
“She was born in Virginia, in 1857. My great grandmother.” Boudreaux said. “We called her Mama Belle. She and her grandmother and other family members and other enslaved people boarded a ship and stopped along the way, she remembered they stopped in New Orleans and some of her family members were sold and so were the other people.”
A ship with a compass, but for most aboard, that direction was not known.
“There was a storm and she said it was very frightening.” Bordereaux’s talked about her grandmother who at that point fell to her knees and started praying. “One of the crewmen kicked her and told her ‘N**** stop all that noise.’ The captain told her ‘Mama, keep praying.’ So, she did, but she stood and prayed. That was something that was very touching to me, is that she continued to pray, meanwhile, it was the captain who continued to pray, now I am sure she would have continued to pray silently had she not been given them permission to do so. The story means to me, that her faith, her faith she felt she was going to make it, even though she wasn’t living the most desirable life, but she was going to make it through that storm. For African Americans, that is one thing, for most of us, we depend on faith for getting the things we need or want.”
Ms. Boudreaux said Mama Belle lived into her late 90s, but sadly she does not have any photos of her, as they were lost in Hurricane Ike.