What's Juneteenth?

I pulled into Kenneth Hahn plaza twenty minutes ago, and as I walked into the Starbucks, I found myself contemplating the state of Black and Latino people in the greater Watts/Willowbrook/Compton area. Why was I thinking such deep thoughts? Because of two signs that were stuck on the fence of the lot on 118th and Wilmington.

One sign said, "Divorcio y custodia" and then had a phone number.
The other sign said, "100% Indian Hair for Your Weave" and also had a phone number.

The question I was contemplating was, "If I were an alien dropped onto earth and I saw those two signs, what would I be thinking?"

The Starbucks was empty, save for two African-American employees. They were chatting and the girl asked me the date.
"It's June 19th, it's Juneteenth today!" I said.
"Oh that's right, it sure is," she said.

Brothaman says, "What's Juneteenth?"

I think we both simultaneously exclaimed, "You don't know what Juneteenth is?"

But why should we be shocked? I never learned what Juneteenth is in school. I don't think I would know what Juneteenth is if I hadn't been in Houston in the summer of '98. So, let me ask you, do you know what Juneteenth is?

If you don't have a clue, Juneteenth or June 19, 1865, is the date when the last slaves in America were freed. There had been rumors about emancipation, but actual emancipation did not come until a man named General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas on June 19, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. He said this,

"General Order #3 "The people are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute quality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, become that between employer and hired labor. The freed are advised to remain 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."

Yes, that's right. Slaves kept on working all while SOME folks knew they were actually free. And this brotha in Compton didn't know it. We do not know our history in this country. White folks don't know it. Black folks don't know it. And we all just keep truckin' along, pretending that our day of reckoning will never come.


Anonymous said…
Juneteenth is America's 2nd Independence Day celebration. 26 states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or state holiday observance, as well as the Congress of the United States.

Together we will see Juneteenth become a national holiday in Amemrica!

Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)

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