June 19, 2009, - 1:30 pm

Happy Juneteenth

By Debbie Schlussel
Today is Juneteenth–an important day in U.S. history. But, sadly, it’s mostly only noted and celebrated in Black America. It’s also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.
On June 19, 1865, Army Gen. Gordon Granger announced the Emancipation Proclamation to slaves in Galveston, Texas. In truth, President Abraham Lincoln had already declared all slaves free, two and a half years earlier. But the celebration takes place on June 19th because many Texas slaves were not freed until the Granger declaration.

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.

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In many circles around America, some activists have used Juneteenth to attack America and cry racism yet again, asserting that Blacks don’t have equality. But not only isn’t that true, we have a number of programs that give Blacks and other minorities preferences. Yet, some prefer to wear that chip on their shoulder, and it’s as if they wish there still was slavery in America, as it would enhance the Sharptons and Farrakhans and Jacksons and Wrights.
Yes, there will always be racism in some corners, but Blacks have advanced significantly in America over the last near-century and a half since they were freed from slavery, including to the Presidency. If you ignore that, you’ve missed the picture. If you look for racism, you will always find it.
Instead, today is a cause for celebration because, even though this nation was very young at the time, we did free slaves and end slavery. And while that was almost 150 years ago, in many countries around the world–particularly Muslim countries, which lead the world in human trafficking–slavery remains alive and well. And many of the slaves there are Black.
So, today, I celebrate Juneteenth for the incredible things, the incredible opportunities that America gave Blacks, beginning with freeing them from slavery.
Above all, Juneteenth is about freedom, which we all enjoy as Americans, regardless of our skin complexion.
Happy Juneteenth, America.

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20 Responses

Happy Juneteenth to you too, Debbie! I’m here in Texas where we celebrate it hard and heavy! But as much as we celebrate it in the Southwest, we don’t celebrate it nearly to the extent I remember my great-grandmother and her peers celebrating it (she was born on the Galveston-area plantation were her parents had been slaves, so she had first-hand knowledge of Juneteenth!).
Yes, we Blacks in America have come a long way, but if you look at the latest statistics, we still have a long way to go (and most of what is holding us back now is self-inflicted…we are are own worst enemny!). But this is America, the greatest nation on earth. If we can’t get it done here, we can’t get it done anywhere. I’m glad GOD blessed me to be here at this time and in this place called Anerica and I give thanks to all who worked, bled, and died to make it possible. Like the famous line in “Saving Private Ryan”, I hear the voices of those past telling me and many others to “Earn this!” And it is my responsibility to do just that.
Thanks again Debbie and have a great Juneteenth!

JibberJabber on June 19, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Debbie,
Thank you for addressing issues that are starting to irritate many of us. Like your subsequent writing, “Buying Black Only” and this one…hitting the issues that in this economy make the inequality more apparent and make us realize all the advantages that being black have.
I am appalled that Congress is even, again, considering an apology for slavery. Every race in this world has had slavery and NOT just based on skin color. I refuse to apologize. No one on either side of MY family from the beginning of their known history has had a slave. I do not want the Congress apologizing for something that I or my family have never done. Too much has been done and is being done, especially in today’s economy. I was talking to a young white woman yesterday who is trying to work her way through nursing school. She said, ” You try to be responsible and not have children until you can afford them, but then look at the advantages you get when you have so many children out of wedlock, it just is not fair. They get money to go to school, discounted housing,food stamps,wicca…like a medal for having children. It is not fair”.
And it is NOT fair.

cthelight on June 19, 2009 at 4:26 pm

[And while that was almost 150 years ago, in many countries around the world–particularly Muslim countries, which lead the world in human trafficking–slavery remains alive and well. And many of the slaves there are Black.]
America freed the slaves 150 yrs. ago after 400 yrs. of slavery and then after that, 100 yrs. of vile discrimination. So you conservative White folk stop whining about affirmative action. You asked for it.
[I do not want the Congress apologizing for something that I or my family have never done.Posted by: cthelight]
Congress is apologizing for what the government of the USofA DID YOU STUPID JACKASS!!!
[NB: AMERICA WAS ALREADY A COUNTRY FOR 550 YEARS IN 1865? HMMM. . . NEWS TO ME. I GUESS THAT 1776 DATE WE ALL LEARNED IS FAKE? THANKS FOR THE TIP. VERY APPARENT YOU GRADUATED FROM THE PUBLICK SKOOLZ. DS]

Norman Blitzer on June 19, 2009 at 6:16 pm

[NB: AMERICA WAS ALREADY A COUNTRY FOR 550 YEARS IN 1865? HMMM. . . NEWS TO ME. I GUESS THAT 1776 DATE WE ALL LEARNED IS FAKE? THANKS FOR THE TIP. VERY APPARENT YOU GRADUATED FROM THE PUBLICK SKOOLZ. DS]
You misread my post. America did in fact free the slaves in 1865 after hundreds of years of slavery within the colonies or land mass etc.,.

Norman Blitzer on June 19, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Norman Blitzer,
I will NOT invest myself in a war of words with someone who obviously has no talent at math or history which would include the date this country was actually a country. Yes, there were colonies, but very few and from several different countries across the oceans…and actually, 4 hundred years before 1865, that would be 1465…no one is really sure who was actually living here. In the 1600’s hundreds, this country had debtors prisons which were started by England. Get a history book…and before you call someone else ridiculous names, look in the mirror.

cthelight on June 19, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Norman Blitzer,
Must make another comment as to yours,”Congress is apologizing for what the government of the USofA DID YOU STUPID JACKASS!!!” Not sure if you are aware that Congress DOES speak for me and you. They DO represent all of us, and they did NOT ask me what I thought. Actually, Congress is the government and visa versa.
Mistake on my first post, not wicca…it is WIC.
Enough said.

cthelight on June 19, 2009 at 10:48 pm

“America freed the slaves in 1865 after hundreds of years of slavery.”
The above statement is 100% correct.
[Not sure if you are aware that Congress DOES speak for me and you. They DO represent all of us, and they did NOT ask me what I thought. Actually, Congress is the government and visa versa.]
The US government is based on representative democracy not direct democracy. You may vote for whatever representative, but after that, the representative can vote however he/she feels for the term. If the US Congress wants to apologize for slavery, they don’t need your or any voter’s approval. Even if your ancestors had nothing to do with slavery, many Americans did and it was condoned by the government for the first 8 decades of US of America’s history.

Norman Blitzer on June 19, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I recognize what Ms. Schlussel is driving at with the Juneteenth anniversary, but having lived in the South for a lot of years, when Juneteenth began to be an event, all the rest of us experienced was three days and nights of No Police Presence, Riots everywhere, looting, arson, random wanton destruction just for the hell of it, killings, and in Atlanta …. the 75/85 central corridor absolutely locked into a standstill as that stretch of Interstate became one massive Nero-style party and mass hysteria. And God help whatever white women and families were trapped in their cars, unsuspecting, like tourists passing through. Television choppers were relaying video of young men in gangs of 50 and more trying to break into cars like that caught in the melee, to get at the occupants, screaming things that can’t be written here.
The behavior of people ‘celebrating’ Juneteenth is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed except for a mass hysteria in Cairo’s streets one time, a kind of blood thirsty insane savagery I pray to God I never witness again. You think Detroit’s Devil’s Night is something, you shoulda been in Atlanta in the mid 90s for Juneteenth. Makes the crowds in tehran right now look puny.

BlackFlagQ55 on June 20, 2009 at 12:58 am

I think you have at least one person who really has problems with historical dates and reality. The United States did not come into being until 1776. Prior to that date, the United States did not exist. Each state in existence was a colony of the British Crown. Also, prior to Jamestown in 1607, there were not any permanent English settlements on mainland North America. You do not have to trust me on this one. Check it out for yourself. Also, whatever happened in the rest of the Americas, would have been issue to take up with the French, Portuguese, Spanish, as well as the United Kingdom. Brazil did not end slavery until the 1888, so you might want to chat with them as well.

Worry01 on June 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm

I think you have at least one person who really has problems with historical dates and reality. The United States did not come into being until 1776. Prior to that date, the United States did not exist. Each state in existence was a colony of the British Crown. Also, prior to Jamestown in 1607, there were not any permanent English settlements on mainland North America. You do not have to trust me on this one. Check it out for yourself. Also, whatever happened in the rest of the Americas, would have been issue to take up with the French, Portuguese, Spanish, as well as the United Kingdom. Brazil did not end slavery until 1888, so you might want to chat with them as well.

Worry01 on June 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm

[The United States did not come into being until 1776. Prior to that date, the United States did not exist. Posted by: Worry01]
You guys are real idiots.

Norman Blitzer on June 20, 2009 at 2:48 pm

During the war of Northern aggression, the total KIA was 640,000 Americans killed. That is a huge price for Freedom. The slaves were officially freed January 1, 1863.
At that time the country was almost 87 years old. Does ‘Four Score and Seven years ago…’ ring any bells.
So whatever General Granger said or done was merely redundant. Try celebrating the 4th of July instead.

mark on June 20, 2009 at 4:58 pm

“You guys are real idiots.” Yes Norman, that was a very informed reply. It really addressed the facts. My, I am certain that no one here has ever encountered such brilliance and wit before you came along.

Worry01 on June 20, 2009 at 7:21 pm

You know looking at this from the Canadian perspective, I think if the US Congress apologises for slavery then everyone just moves on and whatever happens thereafter happens, that being, if people still have chips on their shoulders or whatever. At least the effort was made. We apologised for our treatment of the Natives -forced into residentual schools- and for the head tax on Chinese labourers. Government are responsible for their actions – it’s plain and simple. America needs to get over her sins of the past and move forward. If you don’t have dark skin (for those who find this a problem) how would you ever know what discrimination is like? It was most prevelant against visible minorities in general. Debbie should also note that Jews were involved in the slave trade as well. There’s a book written by author Farber on this. So in closing, America should own up, speak up and move forward.

Pesach on June 20, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Too bad all “juneteenth”( Typically STOOPID title given to Black ‘history’ events ) celebrations end up as ugly as Freaknik – but what else is new?

OldSchoolW on June 20, 2009 at 11:56 pm

Pesach:
That was a nice little thing you wrote, but it really missed the mark. No one in the United States denied that slavery existed, so owning up to it is not really necessary. Also, you seem to forget that we fought a Civil War(1861-1865)over this issue. There were 618,000-700,000 casualties recorded during that conflict. In addition, the South was occupied for 12 years by the North in a period known as reconstruction(1865-1877). Also, during the period the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were ratified, as well as enabling legisltion. So. there was no denial envolved, but the implementation of all of this was problematic. Finally, the people who want the apology are not looking for recognition, but financial compensation for something they never suffered from, namely slavery.

Worry01 on June 21, 2009 at 1:18 am

Worry1:
You state, “Also, you seem to forget that we fought a Civil War(1861-1865)over this issue”. I have to disagree because the civil war was not over slavery contrary to what you history has taught you. The Civil War was over secession of the south from the north. It’s kind of like what’s going on now with some States of the Union refusing to except the government’s bail out plan.The slaves just happened to be there when the war broke out. To date, the South is still recovering from it all. Why do you think they had Confederate currency? You state, “Finally, the people who want the apology are not looking for recognition, but financial compensation for something they never suffered from, namely slavery.” Yet, they have suffered the generational repercussions and perhaps you don’t care to wante to know that but then again if your not of colour it really shouldn’t concern you.

Pesach on June 21, 2009 at 11:03 am

Congress should never apologize for slavery as it will accomplish nothing in either the white or black community. For as long as can remember blacks have carried this sacred chip on their shoulders so they may scream racism whenever it is opportune. They seem unable to promote themselves in a constructive manner. Bill Cosby was so right with his pound cake speech. If you cannot speak and dress correctly where will you go? To the cotton fields?
Hopefully not all whites have a guilty conscience on which opportunists may prey upon.
Blacks seem to be the only group that is actively downwardly mobile on purpose. Even the Hispanics, who can barely speak English have a better prospect to make something of themselves.

Chuck W on June 21, 2009 at 11:42 am

Pesach:
Sorry, I do try to rely on evidence, rather than making assertions that really have no reality to them. If you question the origins of the Civil War, try checking out Frederick Douglass(Life and Times of Frederick Douglass) or W.E.B Dubois(The Souls of Black Folk). That will give you a little hard reality. As for comparing what is happening in the South today with the Civil War, that is more than slightly bizarre.

Worry01 on June 21, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Do any of you even know any black families? Or, are you solely relying on the media for your stereotypes? Not all black people are thugs and rappers! Turn off the television and actually go out and meet some real down to earth families who also happen to be black!

SuziPII on August 23, 2009 at 9:02 pm

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