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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Juneteenth: Black Independence Day

Crossposted at Blog For America, MyDD, DailyKos and Booman Tribune

Across the United States of America, Americans are celebrating Juneteenth: Black Independence Day. Seven score and three years ago President Abraham Lincoln issued these words:
"On the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom."

That word did not make it to Texas, however, until June 19th, 1965 – two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after General Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox Court House – when Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas and proclaimed General Order Number 3:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

We celebrate Juneteenth because we need to remember where we came from in order to chart where we are going. We celebrate Juneteenth because those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it. We celebrate Juneteenth because until the last slave is freed, none of us is freed. We can never return to slavery. Never. Yet in many ways, America still practices slavery to this day. The plantations of the Antebellum South provided their workers with food, clothing, shelter, and a modicum of entertainment. The Wal*Marts of today’s America pay wages sufficient for workers to acquire food, clothing, shelter, and a modicum of entertainment. It is true that today’s worker can often choose the plantation corporation for which he or she wishes to work, but that worker will still be dependent upon his owner employer for continued food, clothing, and shelter. The forms have changed but the substance is the same – serfs still work for feudal lords.

The only way to be free, to truly declare independence, is to be financially independent. This is true of individuals, communities, and nations. So long as someone else can make decisions that affect your ability to provide for your needs then you are dependent upon them, not independent.

It has been argued that the Congressional Black Caucus is saving Democracy, and there is some truth to that. However, many of them are subject to many of the same corporate influences to which their White counterparts submit. African-Americans For Democracy seeks to help our Representatives to be independent, of corporate money - allowing them to maintain their independent voice, breathing life into the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

African Americans For Democracy is working to establish a new generation of politically active Blacks for the purpose of securing the independence of our brothers and sisters, our communities, and the people of this nation. You can help us get started – visit the African-Americans For Democracy homepage and celebrate Juneteenth with us by donating to our effort to build a Black Donor Class.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 4:00 PM

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