Absolute Equality 1865 – 2021: The Story of Juneteenth in Texas June 21, 2021

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Without the military help of the African American freeman, the war against the south could not have been won--President Abraham Lincoln

 

“As an artist I come to sing, but as a citizen, I will always speak for peace, and no one can silence me in this”                                 – Paul Robeson

 

From Pacifica Radio, this is Covid, Race and Democracy, a collective effort by producers from the Pacifica Network and radio affiliates.

The Story...June 19, 1865 marks the origin of Juneteenth, on Galveston Island. The official celebration began in 1866, commemorating the freedom of African people from settler colonialism, 2 1/2 years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Before the passage of the Juneteenth legislation by the House and Senate last week,  only four new holidays were added to the national calendar in the past 100 years. 

June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the legislation, making  Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday. It’s the first new federal holiday since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. Longtime Fort Worth, TX advocate, Esteemed Elder and “Mother” of Juneteenth, Ms. Opal Lee, 94, travelled to Washington, D.C. to observe history, stating her Ancestors have waited 155 years, 11 months and 28 days.

Voices:                                                                                                                      Sam Collins III, co-chair and historian of the Juneteenth Legacy Project on Galveston, Island – the birthplace of Juneteenth in 1865, explains the early history of “men with guns” who were written out of the narrative. 

Dr. Gerald Horne holds the Moores Professorship of History and African American Studies, at the University of Houston. Mexico ended slavery before Texas, Dr. Horne explains why. Special thanks to producer and host Mimi Rosenberg (WBAI). 

Former Texas Congressman and State Senator Craig Washington shares the history about the late State Representative Al Edwards, introduction of Texas House Bill 1016. It passed in the 66th Legislature, Regular Session, declaring June 19, “Emancipation Day in Texas,” a legal state holiday effective starting in 1980.

June is Black Music Month. Dr. Anne Lundy, music director of the Community Music Center of Houston shares  the evolution of Black spirituals and the African American musical tradition. 

Mitch Capel performs Paul Laurence Dunbars’ powerful poem recounting the Colored union soldiers’ contributions to the Civil War. The Colored Soldier, was published in 1913.  Dunbar was among the first nationally successful African American writers.

Attorney Craig Washington, former Houston activist and politician – served in the Texas State House of Representative, the Texas State Senate and  the U.S. House of Representatives, serving District 18, formerly held by the late Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland, currently held by CW Sheila Jackson-Lee, of HTX.

Texas House Bill 1016 was created by the late state representative Al Edwards, and passed in the 66th Legislature, Regular Session, declaring June 19, “Emancipation Day in Texas,” a legal state holiday in 1980. Since that time, the celebration of Juneteenth continues across the state of Texas with family gatherings, lectures, parades, and community events. 

Washington spoke with former IGM, scholar/poet and guest host of CRD, Dr. Obidike Kamau, of KPFT Houston.

On Juneteenth in San Francisco at the historic ILWU Local 10 Hall, political activist, author, and scholar Angela Davis became an honorary union member following similar historical actions bestowed upon Paul Robeson and Dr. Martin Luther King. She had spoken at a previous Juneteenth event in the Port of Oakland where 20,000 workers and community people rallied.

Angela  Davis is a founding member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, and author of a number of books including; Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement. Audio recorded by Charles Bolton, Reality Productions. 

Watch the full ceremony here.

Mimi Rosenberg of WBAI New York spoke to Dr. Tiffany Crutcher live from the Juneteenth Freedom Festival, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She’s the twin sister of Terrance Crutcher, who was shot and killed Sept. 2016, by police officer Betty Jo Shelby in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was unarmed.

About:

Credits:                                                                                                                       Akua Holt, Producer/Editor/Host                                                                              Polina Vasiliev, Producer editor                                                                               Akua  Holt, Polina Vasiliev, and Steve Zeltzer, Executive producers

Links: 

Emancipation Proclamation 

https://apnews.com/article/juneteenth-lifestyle-travel-museums-arts-and-entertainment-0dcf208da47cd761985bbfb8e58e23fc

The Juneteenth Legacy Project               https://www.juneteenthlegacyproject.com/what-we-do         

THE COLORED SOLDIERS                                                                       Published 1913, by Paul Laurence Dunbar

https://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/187/lyrics-of-lowly-life/3691/the-colored-soldiers/

Growing Up With Juneteenth                                                                                              How a Texan holiday became a national tradition                                                                                                             https://portside.org/2021-06-16/growing-juneteenth