ABOVE (right): U.S. Congressman Al Green (TX-9)
Congressman Al Green and Senator Elizabeth Warren request a Presidential Medal of Freedom for America’s Enslaved
Thanksgiving is a day of gathering with family, friends, and loved ones to be thankful for the many blessings bestowed upon them throughout the year, as well as to chow down on some of the signature dishes that are typically only made for this celebrated holiday.
Thanksgiving can also be looked at as a day of solemn reflection, as we remember the dark history surrounding the treatment of Native Americans and the subsequent oppression, murder, and slavery of people of African descent for centuries by European settlers in North America.
According to historians, approximately 402 years ago, in 1621, European settlers came to the shores of America and connected with Native Americans to have a combined feast, which is considered one of the very first Thanksgiving celebrations in America.
In 1619, two years before what is considered the first Thanksgiving Day celebration, the White Lion ship arrived at Point Comfort, near present day Norfolk, Virginia, carrying the first enslaved people of African descent that were stolen from their native land and forcibly brought to the shores of America to become a part of a system of slavery that is considered “America’s Original Sin” by many.
These enslaved people of African descent were inhumanely treated, provided free labor, and were brutalized during this “celebratory” time when their oppressors were celebrating with another group of people (Native Americans) who would eventually succumb to some of the same oppression and brutality that they unfortunately endured for over 400 years.
Fast forward to 1863 (160 years ago), and President Abraham Lincoln chose to recognize Thanksgiving Day nationally, and proclaimed that it be held annually each November, and it has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November ever since.
The Thanksgiving holiday still serves as sore spot for many Native Americans and people of African descent, however, primarily because of the gaping wound left behind because of the many atrocities committed by those European settlers.
While African Americans have celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with their families and loved ones for centuries, the formerly enslaved people of African descent had to learn how to make the most of celebrating with their families, while enduring the horrid conditions they faced.
These formerly enslaved people of African descent are never celebrated every Thanksgiving holiday, nor do they receive the recognition and thanks for helping build the country we all have the freedom and opportunity to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday as a citizen of.
So, as we celebrate another Thanksgiving holiday, it is important to highlight the efforts being made by Democratic U.S. Congressman Al Green (TX-9) and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who have officially requested a Presidential Medal of Freedom to honor the formerly enslaved people of African descent who helped build this country.
Both Congressman Green and Senator Warren embarked on their historic joint endeavor to recognize the profound and enduring contribution of the formerly enslaved people of African descent and their contributions to the economic foundation that has made America great.
In a collaborative letter addressed to President Joe Biden, Congressman Green and Senator Warren have been joined by 63 members of the U.S. House, along with support from U.S. Senators Booker, Van Hollen, and Padilla, in requesting that President Biden grant a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to the nation’s economic foundational mothers and fathers.
Congressman Green and Senator Warren emphasized the vital role the formerly enslaved people of African descent played in shaping the economic foundation of America, as these notable individuals contributed centuries of labor by planting and harvesting the crops that were used to help them and their oppressors celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, constructing critical roads and bridges, as well as providing the groundwork for lucrative industries such as cotton and tobacco. Their collective efforts propelled America to the global economic dominance it now enjoys today and the freedom to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with abundant blessings.
Last year, the Forward Times reported that President Biden marked the commemoration of Slavery Remembrance Day with a statement acknowledging the repercussions of slavery, led by the efforts of Congressman Green and Senator Warren.
Both Congressman Green and Senator Warren believe that a Presidential Medal of Freedom would be a further, monumental recognition of the immense contributions of the formerly enslaved people of African descent and a transformation of our historical narrative.
Congressman Green further emphasized that to secure Congressional Gold Medals for the formerly enslaved people of African descent would be more than the right thing to do, especially since the U.S. Congress honored Confederate soldiers in 1956, for their role in being traitors to this country and being on the losing end of a war they triggered due to wanting to retain slavery.
“President Biden granting a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to the American enslaved would provide a historic tribute to their stolen legacy,” said Congressman Green. “It would truly be a groundbreaking moment of national acknowledgment. Such acknowledgment is an imperative contribution to the healing of historical wounds, encouraging a renewed sense of justice, and declaring that the labor and sacrifices of enslaved persons were foundational to our nation’s prosperity.”
Senator Warren believes that while this does not cure all of the horrors of slavery, the granting of this medal of freedom would recognize the injustices imposed upon the formerly enslaved people of African descent, in the form of the denial of the freedom that all human beings earn by birthright.
“We will never be able to undo our nation’s painful history of slavery, but there are steps we can take now toward recognition and reconciliation,” said Senator Warren. “By awarding the nation’s highest civilian honor posthumously to enslaved Americans, we can honor those who played a fundamental role in building the economic and social foundation of our nation.”
As we celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday season, it is our hope at the Forward Times that the millions of formerly enslaved people of African descent would receive their just honor and praise for all they endured and contributed to make America great. For that, we say “THANK YOU!”