(I think I’m going to start my blogs off this way from now on!!).
Out of all of my blogs I’ve done this far, this is the absolute most important. We’re discussing Juneteenth, the meaning behind it and things we weren’t aware of. I know there are different levels of knowledge about Juneteenth, so I’m starting at the beginning. Let your cousin put you on right quick!
Why is it that we celebrate the caucasians holiday’s but not ours? The better question is why do we KNOW more about their holiday’s than our own? We wear green for St. Patrick’s Day, dress up in costumes for Halloween, and even celebrated a fraud for generations faithfully, Christopher Columbus. (It’s ALWAYS a dude named Chris. Ladies stay away from them lol).
We wear our red, white, and blue for the 4th of July, also known as Independence day but clueless about our own Independence Day.
We know our ancestors were enslaved for about 13 generations and there seemed to be no hope. Eventually, the civil war turned from fighting over land, power, and control to emancipation of the slaves, their freedom. Abraham Lincoln, who really isn’t the saint we think he is, wrote the executive order to free slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in September 1863. This was great, but let’s go a bit deeper. Let’s start with how most of the southerners didn’t like or respect the president meaning they didn’t abide by his orders (first cases of documented white privilege).
How many slave owners do you think had the decency to tell our ancestors they were free? Especially when the end to slavery would severely impact them economically? Many of our ancestors were unaware of the great news and some didn’t even know about emancipation until June 19th 1865, TWO whole years after the order was signed. Shout out to Sargent Gordon Granger who came to Galveston, Texas, to let the slaves know they were legally free. It’s important to note that when the civil war started, many slave owners sent their slaves to Texas so the slaves wouldn’t be harmed or captured during the war. (But could be harmed at the hands of the slave master. Make it make sense) Anyways, because June 19th was the day the remaining slaves got word of the end to slavery, they declared this as a traditional celebration, which started in Galveston, Texas. When the great migration occurred (1916-1970) and our ancestors moved across the country, they continued to celebrate and expand this tradition. The end.
SIKE….. Let’s go back for a hot second.
In the written document from Abraham Lincoln, it was noted that slavery was abolished UNLESS it was punishment to a crime. There’s always a loophole somewhere. Because our ancestors had been enslaved for 13 generations they had nothing and nowhere to go. Naturally they stayed close to or on the property they were enslaved on. The malignant white people, knowing this, decided that trespassing was a crime and would re-enslave our ancestors legally. Not all plantation owners did this, some made deals with our ancestors where if they worked for wages, they could stay on the land. You must know that the ex-slave owner took majority of the money and gave the slaves just enough so they couldn’t thrive and get their own things, starting a new life. (First cases of minimum wage?) What these white people forgot was how resilient, creative, and prosperous we could be. I mean that was one of the reasons they chose us to enslave in the first place.
Speaking of prosperity, have you heard of Black Wall Street in Greenwood, Oklahoma(Tulsa, Oklahom)? Did you know this was an exclusive Black community where white people weren’t really allowed? Did you know this community of Black people THRIVED, having more millionaires in their community than all of the United Staes combined? Black doctors, lawyers, schools, dentist, bakery’s, stores, and everything else you could think of. They only spent with one another and their money stayed within the community. UNTIL the malignant white folk lied on my dude Dick Rowland saying he assaulted a white girl (and DIDNT) so they wanted to lench him. Our Black community was not going and came to defend Mr. Rowland at the county courthouse where a mob of armed white people congregated. A shot from a gun went off and that started the tumultuous massacre in 1921. At the courthouse, 10 white people died and 2 black people died. A handful of black people were arrested and no whites were arrested, surprising I know. The white people wanted revenge and intruded the town of Greenwood; looting, injuring, and killing the residents. This mob of white people were armed by the city’s officials, probably because many of them were the city officials. (History be repeating itself because this reminds me of how the United States Capitol was compromised earlier this year and many of the participants were government & local officials). The city even loaded airplanes filled with turpentine, a poisonous chemical if ingested, on Black Wall Street. The local authorities held off aid from the firefighters and The Red Cross until ‘enough damage’ was done. They even blocked transportation ways for first responders. By the end of this 16 hour hate spree, they say 300 Greenwood residents died, but we know it’s way more than that, many more were injured, and over 8,000 were homeless. On top of that, insurance companies refused to compensate for any damages. This was another event hidden from us and unfortunately this is not the first instance of entire Black communities being terrorized and demolished by white people. The 100 year anniversary of this horrific massacre was this year. I just had to tell y’all that.
But back to Juneteenth. Juneteenth was so important to our ancestors that they bought 10- acres of land in 1872 and named it Emancipation Park which was a safe place to celebrate. During these celebrations, many would bring foods in the color of red. Red foods and red drinks represented the blood and sacrifice of those who did not make it and a reminder of their resilience. Somewhere between then and now this piece of history was lost. On this upcoming Juneteenth, celebrate and celebrate hard!
BrainPop. What is juneteenth and why do we celebrate. (2021) YouTube.
Next Gen America. History of juneteenth. (2020). YouTube
History. Juneteenth what you need to know. (2020)
The Daily Show. What is juneteenth? (2020). YouTube.
UMI. Uncover the hidden secrets of black Wall Street. (2021) YouTube.