“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”Desmond Tutu, South African Anglican cleric, Nobel Peace Price, humanitarian…
I wasn’t planning to do a blog on this topic. It is June 23rd, four days after June 19th and the celebration- meaning of this date is still on my mind.
What is Juneteenth? Please excuse my ignorance. No, I’m not excusing my ignorance. Goodness, I’m 54 years old and I can’t help to think, why haven’t I known about the significance, the importance of Juneteenth (June 19th)? Why weren’t my children, who are in their 30s and 20s, taught about the significance and importance of this date, in school?
So, I asked my mother, who is 74 years young and from South Carolina, if she was told-taught about Juneteenth. Quote: “My daddy, momma, aunts and uncles never mentioned anything. The first time I heard about it was recently in the news.”
It took the outcries about the injustice against blacks for many of “us” to become aware of Juneteenth and this hurts my heart.
So, I went to the Smithsonian National Museum of African History & Culture, Washington, DC …
On the night of January 1, 1863, referred to as “Freedom’e Eve”, across the country, enslaved and freed African Americans attended church and gathered in their homes waiting for news on whether or not the Emancipation Proclamation would go into effect. At midnight, prayers were answered and enslaved people in Confederate states were legally free.
Union soldiers, many who were black, marched throughout the South, onto plantations reading the Emancipation Proclamation, announcing news of freedom in Confederate States only. Regardless of the President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, states under Confederate control did not implement the Proclamation. It took the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, by Congress in1865, ending slavery in the United States.
“… As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree.” The freed people of Texas marked this day as “Juneteenth”. “Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day.” – Smithsonian
“Although it has long celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans.”
DING! DING! Here it is in black and white; most Americans do not know about this monumental event.
Like my mother did for my sister and I, on Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday, before it became a national holiday, she allowed us to stayed home from school. I wish I was able to give my children the same allowance, to recognize and celebrate Juneteenth.
Regardless of my research, the question continues to rise, and I will admit feel disappointed and sad. Who is at fault? Blame the school system, blame our elders, blame myself….? I realize it doesn’t matter. I can not change the past, but I mostly definitely will ensure my children, grand children and future great-grand children are aware and stress the importance to share with future generations.
As adults, it is important for us to learn about our heritage and not rely on what is taught in schools. So, sit down and share with your family and others your ancestor’s challenges and triumphs BOLDLY and PROUDLY!
My beautiful mother-in-law couldn’t have said it better “… create and keep traditions and memories” and that is exactly what I plan on doing. In my family, Juneteenth is a national holiday and we will CELEBRATE!
SIDE NOTE. Following are “Martin Luther King Jr. Textual Art” prints sold at Wayfair.com that would look great on a family gallery wall or in your office.
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Be Safe Everyone and …