Saturday, June 16, 2007

Juneteenth

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In the United States there are four "holiday" times within the calendar year of special significance to our Afro-Americans. They are Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month, Juneteenth and Kwaanza. (My friend Indira calls them 'celebrations of colour') Perhaps the least is known about Juneteenth, celebrating the end of slavery in the US: Although the Emancipation Proclamation called for the liberation of Confederate slaves on Jan. 1, 1863, its effects weren't immediate. The final slaves in Texas didn't learn of their freedom until June 19, 1865—a full two and a half years after the emancipation took effect—when the Union army rode into Galveston to enforce Abraham Lincoln's executive order.The anniversary of June 19, or Juneteenth, has been sporadically celebrated in the South as a black independence day ever since, but the tradition didn't have a presence in the Northern states before Margaret Henningsen brought it to Milwaukee in the early 1970s.

from juneeenth.com: Juneteenth is a day of reflection, a day of renewal, a pride-filled day. It is a moment in time taken to appreciate the African American experience. It is inclusive of all races, ethnicities and nationalities - as nothing is more comforting than the hand of a friend.Juneteenth is a day on which honor and respect is paid for the sufferings of slavery. It is a day on which we acknowledge the evils of slavery and its aftermath. On Juneteenth we talk about our history and realize because of it, there will forever be a bond between us.

On Juneteenth we think about that moment in time when the enslaved in Galveston, Texas received word of their freedom. We imagine the depth of their emotions, their jubilant dance and their fear of the unknown. Juneteenth is a day that we commit to each other the needed support as family, friends and co-workers. It is a day we build coalitions that enhance African American economics. On Juneteenth we come together young and old to listen, to learn and to refresh the drive to achieve. It is a day where we all take one step closer together - to better utilize the energy wasted on racism. Juneteenth is a day that we pray for peace and liberty for all.

The 16th of June has particular meaning for African blacks:

Rethabile: (excerpt) "I was fifteen, but I remember the events of 16 June 1976 like it was last week. Black kids rose against the Apartheid state in South Africa, and refused Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in schools. They stamped their collective foot and said “No!” And their cry shook the world. Police opened fire and the first kid to go down was Hector Pieterson. I know you’ve seen the now famous picture of his limp body in the hands of Mbuyisa Makhubo, his sister running alongside them.
“I saw that he was bad, but I thought that he was just wounded, you know,” remembers Hector’s sister, Antoinette Sithole. [
source]
There were to be many victims that day. Hector’s photo was plastered on the conscience of the world (though few did anything about it), but there weren’t enough photographers to shoot take pictures of the other victims.
Hastings Ndlovu was another such victim, and it is said he may have even died before Hector. Here’s the story of his death."

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1 comment:

  1. It's a day of reflection and violence against the white oppressors..

    ReplyDelete


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