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This year 2013 marks the 150th year anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation



This year 2013 marks the 150th year anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation

By Michael Cullen Boykin, Sr. Drs.

     Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in 1865. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 42 states of the United States.

During the US Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863. One hundred and fifty years ago. Although it declared that African slaves were to be freed in the Confederate States of America in rebellion against the federal government, it had minimal actual effect. Even after the ending of military hostilities, as a part of the former Confederacy, Texas did not act to comply with the Emancipation Proclamation.

On June 18, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. On June 19, standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of “General Order No. 3”:

    The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all African slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property former white slave masters and colored slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

That day has since become known as Juneteenth, a name coming from a portmanteau of the word June and the suf-fix, ”teenth”, as in “Nineteenth”, coined by 1903.

Former slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets with jubilant celebrations. Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following years across many parts of Texas, freed people pooled their funds to purchase land specifically for their com-munities and increasingly large Juneteenth gatherings —including Houston’s Emancipation Park, Mexia’s Booker T. Washington Park, and Emancipation Park in Austin.

Statement by the President on the Observance of Juneteenth:

    On this day in 1865, two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, word finally reached the people of Galveston, Texas that the Civil War was over. All enslaved men, women and children were now free.

    Though it would take decades of struggle and collective effort before African Americans were granted equal treatment and protection under the law, Juneteenth is recognized by Americans everywhere as a symbolic milestone in our journey toward a more perfect union.

    With the recent ground breaking of the first Smithsonian Museum dedicated to African American History and Culture, and the dedication of a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall, this Juneteenth offers another opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come as a nation.  And it’s also a chance to recommit ourselves to the on-going work of guaranteeing liberty and equal rights for all Americans.

However it is very sad that there were no great news coverage, no great Black leader’s speeches and no great jubilant Celebrations, for our freedom- for our freedom- for our freedom, but, my people are preparing to buy fire crackers, sparklers and Pork ribs all to celebrate the signing of the Decoration of Independence on the 4 of July. Do you remember that the Decoration of Independence was signed in 1776 and the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, then that mean Black slaves were still in slavery for another 87 years before we received our freedom.

79 years later on July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Rochester’s Corinthian Hall. It was biting oratory, in which the speaker told his audience, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” And he asked them, “Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?”

Within the now-famous address is what historian Philip S. Foner has called “probably the most moving passage in all of Douglass’ speeches.”

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

This speech was 79 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence when white people got their independence from Europe. And eight years before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed giving the slaves their freedom in 1863.

You might ask why this celebration is so important.

It is part of our history. It’s part of the legacy that we need to keep forward in our minds, and for us to keep in our minds to share with our children—and even though some of us would say we’re still fighting for freedom, we at least need to know what is in place from a legal perspective. You see we as a people tend to forget.

Example: when the Catholic Church was electing a new Pope, the question came up if they elect their first Black Pope? Amazingly, the Catholic Church has had three Black Popes already. It should be no surprise that three early popes hailed from Africa: the 14th pope, Victor I (circa 189-198 A.D.); the 32nd pope, Miltiades (311-314 A.D.); and the 49th pope, Gelasius I (492-496 A.D.). were all of Africans.

According to the sixth-century Liber Pontificalis, the earliest known record of the popes, Victor, was from North Africa, while Miltiades and Gelasius likely were born in Rome to families of African origin. Did we forget?

    We tend to say or think that President Barrack Obama is the First Black President. Not! The first was A “Black” Man. A Moor, John Hanson, was the First Black President of the United States! 1781-1782 A.D. The new country was actually formed on March 1, 1781 with the adoption of The Articles of Confederation.

This document was actually proposed on June 11, 1776, but not agreed upon by Congress until November 15, 1777. Maryland refused to sign this document until Virginia and New York ceded their western lands (Maryland was afraid that these states would gain too much power in the new government from such large amounts of land).

Once the signing took place in 1781, a President was needed to run the country. John                 Hanson was chosen unanimously by Congress (which included George Washington). In fact, all the other potential candidates refused to run against him, as he was a major player in the revolution and an extremely influential member of Congress.

The true history must be passed on to our children so they can pass it on to their children. The Jews remembers the holocaust and the 6 million Jews killed. We don’t remember the Black holocaust where 20 million Africans died on their way to a life of slavery in the Americas.

Lastly, there is a old gospel song I like, “Go tell it on the mountain…” so this month is not over yet, I ask all pastors please — tell it in your church.


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