Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Celebration Forgotten

July 4th is coming up and you can see all the highlights of local cities preparing to put on a big show to celebrate freedom. Neighborhood parks and waterfronts will be filled with many people sporting their reds, whites and blue. Booths with many different items to buy for the scrap book or to be tossed in a box and forgotten. As I listen and witness these events, I can not help but wonder. My first thought is, where is our freedom fair and widespread celebrations to be announced on local television? Are you wondering what is she talking about? I am talking about Juneteenth. June 19, 1865 commemorates the freedom of slaves.

Here is a short lesson:
JUNETEENTH. On June 19 ("Juneteenth"), 1865, Union general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order Number 3, which read in part, "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 tidings of freedom reached the approximately 250,000 slaves in Texas gradually as individual plantation owners informed their bondsmen over the months following the end of the war. The news elicited an array of personal celebrations, some of which have been described in The Slave Narratives of Texas (1974). The first broader celebrations of Juneteenth were used as political rallies and to teach freed African American about their voting rights. Within a short time, however, Juneteenth was marked by festivities throughout the state, some of which were organized by official Juneteenth committees.
My mother who is from Texas taught me and made me read to learn for myself. She would always tell me, don't believe every word you hear, find out for yourself. The books only tell a small truth. I used to wonder why my mother would never make a big deal about the 4th of July. She would say, where is our party and some other course words I won't repeat here but, I am sure you get the point. Here is a small reading again of that emancipation of the General Order Number 3 stating "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 free laborer."

There have been many events throughout history in relation to our African American history and these celebrations are short, IE Black History Month, a whole month to publicly celebrate our blackness. I could go on with my thought on these subjects alone but what I would rather do is just give you a taste of how much effort is put into trying to force us to forget until an appointed time. Well I did not forget because the reality is, I am black 365 days a year, I celebrate my heritage 365 days a year but the thing that bothers me is our young people are clueless. The attention is given to our young men and grown men walking around who have not learned how to pull their pants up, young girls and grown woman giving away their souls and dignity, to music videos of lust and greed, gang violence, unnecessary killings of our black youth and no real respect to our veterans, the list is long.  African American literature is sitting dusty on shelves and dwindling, while most say there is no black justice, where is my 40 achers and the mule? Really?

How do you articulate Freedom? Are you really free? Are you equal within this so called world of equality?

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