Friday, June 20, 2008

Juneteenth Celebration

This weekend, thousands of african americans and others will celebrate Juneteenth across the country.

In case you don't know, Juneteenth celebrations began in this country, primarily in the Texas region in remembrance of when slaves in the United States were emancipated. The name comes from June 19th which is run together to form the word, Juneteenth.

On June 19, 1865, the Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas announcing the war had ended, and all those enslaved were now free! From that moment in Galveston, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day had spread across the United States and beyond. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Today, Juneteenth’s national celebrations focus on African American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures. In recent years, an increasing number of Juneteenth organizations have risen to take their place alongside older organizations with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and heritage. As they continue to take on a more national and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not only remembered, but celebrated.

My mother, Lottie Green Burney who grew up in rural Louisiana recalled that when she was a young girl, they never really celebrated the 4th of July because blacks were never really free in this country until the Emancipation Proclamation was passed. Hence, Juneteenth was a big day in the South. People would barbeque, do fish frys, put together dances, and just fellowship with with family and community while reflecting on what it meant to be free.

She recalled sitting around with the "Old Folks" listening to what some called "Slave Tales." At the time, she thought they were telling tales, like Peter Rabbit or Southern legends. It was not until later that she realized that they were not just "Slave Tales," but "Slave Truths."

African Americans have certainly come a long way in this country in the last century. While racial divide still exists, God has brought us from a mighty long ways. We are even at the point where we could have the first black president, Barrack Obama.

So in rememberance of Juneteenth, and all of those men and women both white and black who put their lives on the line to bring about freedom for all, I encourage you to attend a Juneteenth celebration in your area.

Here are some of the celebrations going on around the Country:

Sat - Jun 21, 2008
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Legions Hill Community Center
South Pardue
Vivian, LA 71082
Phone: (318) 455-1390 PRICE: free.
PHONE: (318) 375-4649 or 375-5730

Sacramento California
June 21 - 22, 2008
William Land Park
Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Free Admission

June 21 2008, 10:00am - 7:00pm
San Francisco, CaliforniaTomorrow,
Where: Civic Center Plaza Park
Polk, McAllister, Grove & Golden Gate
San Francisco, CA

Friday, June 13 at 1:00 PM
Park Strip (Anchorage, AK)
Mid-town, Anchorage
Anchorage, AK 99508

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