Knowledge is power, so let me start this post off with dropping some small gems of knowledge for you:
1. I’m currently in school full time
2. I’m majoring in History (which always receives mixed reactions) because I’ve always loved it.
3. There are two holidays that aren’t recognized nationally but should be. And it my life’s work to get both of them nationally recognized. (My birthday & Juneteenth)
Now, even though only one of those gems are directly relevant to this post, the other two are very important to why I’m writing this. I was told by my first college history professor “History is only the truth of the victor”. Which means that in every story we learn at the public school level, there is another side to the story we will probably never hear and who is to say which side is the ACTUAL truth? This quote was the reason I decided to study History. I want to know the untold stories and understand the unheard side of history. Why did the African Kings sell their own people for guns, spices, and technology of that era? Were the Native Americans really kind to the strange pale visitors? Was Mary Todd Lincoln depressed after seeing her husband shot right in front of her? Asking that last question was how I found out and researched the holiday known as Juneteenth. What’s Juneteenth?
Our story starts with the legendary Abraham Lincoln and his decision to publish The Emancipation Proclamation. As you probably know, The Emancipation Proclamation was issued smack dab in the middle of the American Civil War and is one of Abraham Lincoln’s claims to fame because it was the first time a sitting US president formally denounced slavery. Here’s a short list of what was supposed to happen when the proclamation was implemented:
- Free all slaves
- Allow freed slaves to join the Union army & navy to fight for the freedom of slaves in confederate states
- Punish any state or person who used violence against a black person for any reason other than to protect themselves
Now here’s a look at what the proclamation ACTUALLY did:
- Increased runway slaves to the north
- Increased said slave participation on the Union’s side of the war
- Didn’t free slaves in Confederate states that were under Union control but had low Union military presence
What does this mean? This means that even after the proclamation made slavery illegal in the US it was still going on. Lincoln must have been feeling petty when he was writing the proclamation because he literally made a list calling out every Confederate state that wanted to succeed from the United States and keep slavery.
It was because of this pettiness that the states the Union took control of during the war were exempt from abolishing slavery. So to put it plainly, the Confederate states were like a toddler reaking havoc in the house. The toddler was screaming, painting the walls with crayons, knocking over and breaking fragile things (like Native American sacred land *sips tea). So the parent (Papa Abraham) comes in and says “Nah fam, you don’t pay no bills in this house cut it out!” So the parent hires a babysitter (The Union’s navy/Army) to make sure the toddler behaves. But whenever the babysitter gets distracted by TV, goes to the bathroom, or goes to a different room the toddler continues its destructive behavior (slavery).
So Papa Abraham meant well but it was virtually impossible to enforce the new law because some states needed constant babysitting. A couple years of little to no change in Confederate states later, the war was officially over. The Union’s army occupied most of the south and in some cases went literally plantation to plantation declaring all the slaves free! THIS IS JUNETEENTH! By June 1865, slaves were immediately freed on orders from President Papa Lincoln! Every year following the REAL freeing of slaves black people all across the south (and parts of the north) celebrated liberation with BBQs, family events, music, singing, games etc. So I guess Juneteenth was the original black family cookout…I wonder if they played spades and Frankie Beverly & Mase?
But this holiday isn’t just for black people to remember where they came from. But it’s also something everyone can celebrate. If you do some research you’ll find out that after the first Juneteenth, there was a cultural, economic and emotional explosion that the entire country benefitted from. Former slaves from the south were able to travel to the north, south, east, and western portions of the country to find family members that had been taken or misplaced. That’s how some of these slaves were able to save enough money to buy land because now they were required to be paid for the valueable trades they learned while enslaved (sewing, cooking, carpentry, cleaning, medical care, etc.). This explosion gave birth to some HBCUs that still exist today. So on this 152nd anniversary of Juneteenth think of all that black people have accomplished and achieved since that day. How we have contributed to this country after that day! Im honored to celebrate Juneteenth and I promise before my casket reaches the dirt this will be a Nationally recognized holiday! If you would like to learn more about Juneteenth visit www.juneteenth.com or www.emancipationproclamation.org
k, good talk
-xoxo J (HAPPY JUNETEENTH!)