Black activist suggest people assess extent of their freedom
By David Almasi
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On “Juneteenth,” the oldest and most-recognized observance of the demise of slavery in the United States, members of the Project 21 Black leadership network are suggesting that Black Americans make a personal assessment of how much freedom they actually enjoy these days and how they may be able to expand upon that freedom in the future through limits on government expansion.
Juneteenth, an official holiday or observance in at least 40 states, is on June 19.
“For what began as a celebration of Black Americans’ re-lease from chattel slavery, Juneteenth is important to remember today because all Americans forget at their peril that freedom doesn’t come for free,” said Project 21’s Stacy Swimp, a frequent speaker at and sponsor of past Juneteenth celebrations in Michigan. “More than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln, slavery still exists in America today in the form of too many Americans who suffer from a social, moral, economic and spiritual bondage springing forth from expanding government and entitlements and offers of false salvation. This new slavery robs people of their God-given and constitutionally-protected freedoms, and Juneteenth should be a time to reflect on this crisis and begin to take that freedom back.”
Juneteenth commemorates the anniversary of the arrival of Union troops in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. Those soldiers informed residents in the area that the Civil War was over and that President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had already abolished slavery two-and-a-half years earlier.
Galveston’s former slave population began celebrating their freedom on the anniversary of this day in an event that became known as Juneteenth. The commemoration became a stabilizing and motivating presence among Black Texans experiencing new uncertainties associated with their newfound freedom and their full integration into American society.
The observance of Juneteenth and the event’s emphasis on self-improvement and advancement soon spread from Texas to be recognized in com-munities across the United States.
While Juneteenth is often celebrated with festive event such as cookouts and parades, there is still an emphasis on self-improvement and education that is considered an integral part of the observance.
“As a child growing up in Fulshear, Tex., Juneteenth was always a festive day to remember the good news received in nearby Galveston in 1865. It was the opportunity to make good on the dreams of freedom envisioned by newly-freed slaves. I was always told to remember the sacrifices of those who came before me,” said Project 21’s Carl Pittman. “It is un-fortunate, however, that many Blacks simply moved from one plantation to another over 149 years. An entitlement mentality has removed the sense of pride that was once so dominant in the Black community. Government expands to keep up with the growing demand for entitlements, essentially becoming a new slavemaster by providing free health care, food, cell phones, housing and more. Too many Blacks over the generations have become so dependent they cannot leave this new plantation, and thus they will continue to support an ideology that will eventually and undoubtedly fail them.”
At a time when there is wide-spread concern over the size and scope of government and its intrusion into daily life and peoples’ privacy, members of Project 21 suggest that this year’s observance include extra attention to how freedom may be at risk and what people can do, by themselves or working with others, to reform government policies that limit their freedom.
“At a time when there is wide-spread concern over the size and scope of government and its intrusion into our daily lives, I suggest this year’s observance include extra attention to how we as a people are truly free,” said Project 21’s Gregory Parker, a former county commissioner in Comal County, Texas.
In 2014, Project 21 members have been interviewed or cited by the media over 800 times — including TVOne, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fox News Channel, Westwood One, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SiriusXM sate-llite radio and 50,000-watt talk radio stations such as WBZ-Boston and KDKA-Pittsburgh — on issues that include civil rights, entitlement programs, the economy, race preferences, education and corporate social responsibility. Project 21 has participated in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding race preferences and voting rights and defended voter ID laws at the United Nations. Its volunteer membership comes from all walks of life and are not salaried political professionals.
Project 21, a leading voice of Black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).