“Words of Emancipation didn’t arrive until the middle of June so they called it Juneteenth. So that was it, the night of Juneteenth celebration, his mind went on. The celebration of a gaudy illusion.” ― Ralph Ellison, Juneteenth
Forward Thinkers a few weeks ago African Americans debated over the necessity of the remaking of the movie Roots. Many believe we don’t need any more movies or remainders of slavery. Forward Thinkers somehow there are Blacks in America under the false illusion that if we stop talking about slavery then its negative effect on us as a people will be erased.
Somehow we are the only group in America that spends a great deal of time and energy trying to forget the painful journeys of our ancestors and blend into the fiber and celebrations of our oppressor.
Forward Thinkers we not only need movies, books, and stories educating and remaining us of the darkest period of American history but we also need to celebrate our journey to freedom as often as possible.
Forward Thinkers when we stop learning about our history and celebrating our historical landmarks we will eventually fall back into the pains of our past. Forward Thinkers let’s not forget there are school districts in Texas trying to redefine slavery and pretend the KKK and Jim Crow never existed in America.
Forward Thinkers, Fredrick Douglas said, “The legacy of black people in America could be traced like that of a wounded man through a crowd by the blood.”
The Juneteenth Story
“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 personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”—General Orders, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865
Forward Thinkers when Major General Gordon Granger issued the above order, it was two and a half years after the actually Emancipation Proclamation had been issued. Forward Thinkers by the time we received the news in Texas the Confederate capital in Richmond had fallen, the “Executive Officer” President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated, and the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery was already on its way to ratification. Forward Thinkers can you imagine having a Super Bowl parade two seasons after your team won the Super Bowl? Nevertheless, two years later Texans fans would still celebrate the victory and from that day forward refer to their team as Super Bowl winners. Forward Thinkers we may have gotten the news late but I believe we should still celebrate our road to freedom.
Forward Thinkers history recalls that thousands of slaves had landed in Texas because slave owners from Mississippi and Louisiana had migrated to Texas to escape the Union Army’s power. Therefore, the slave owners were not in a hurry to receive the news of Order 3 especially since they would need the slaves for the field harvest. The white slave owner’s worst nightmare was losing his free labor pool so it was going to take more than just a proclamation for many slave owners to actually set their slaves free. There are still many small pockets in East Texas and Galveston that remind us that slavery was a major factor of the Texas economy. There are documented stories of freed slaves remaining in slavery for years on Texas plantations and many died trying to leave the plantation after learning they were technically free. Forward Thinkers we must celebrate Juneteenth because it is another example of how strong the spirit of the Black is.
Forward Thinkers Juneteenth is an opportunity for us to empower and educate this generation with values of self-improvement and to instill the importance of a racial uplift within people of color. We need to make sure Juneteenth Matters to this Millennium generation speaking truth to power through the Black Lives Matter movement. Forward Thinkers we must insist that our young children learn the Emancipation Proclamation right alongside the Declaration of Independence so no generation of African Americans will be allowed to be held back.
Forward Thinkers remember Juneteenth was birth in the midst of the Jim Crow era in Texas and many Blacks lost their lives fighting to hold on to their newly found freedom. Freedom is never free and as Forward Thinkers we must continue to fight the good fight of faith and never stop pushing for the equality of Black people in America. Forward Thinkers Juneteenth is a chance for us to celebrate us and we must never allow it to be taken from us.
Forward Thinkers the Juneteenth story became an annual celebration at Houston’s Emancipation Park during a time when white people forbade blacks from using their public spaces and in spite of the setbacks we as a people discovered the strength to keep pressing on. Forward Thinkers we need to keep celebrating Juneteenth because there is a generation of unlearned entitled African Americans trying real hard to disconnect from our history of struggle in America.
Forward Thinkers in 1979 Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday largely due to the efforts of Rep. Al Edwards, often referred to as the father of the Juneteenth holiday. Forward Thinkers we must remember in the bible that God instructed the Children of Israel (former slaves) to leave landmarks along their way to the Promise Land and Rep. Al Edwards told Yahoo in 2007, “A national celebration of Juneteenth, state by state, serves a similar purpose for us. Every year we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations. That’s why we need this holiday.”
Forward Thinkers we must continue to celebrate Juneteenth so a lost generation of Blacks can be reminded of our path to the Promise Land from the pits of being dehumanized on the slave plantations across America. Forward Thinkers we must celebration Juneteenth with the same passion we celebrate the 4th of July.
Forward Thinkers in conclusion I’m reminded of a quote by W.E. B. Du Bois, “The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.” We must celebrate Juneteenth because our history and journey to freedom is definitely worth celebrating and we have a responsibility to the next generation to remind them life in America has not always been easy for people of color but life in America also has not been able to break the heart and sprit of people of color. Forward Thinkers we must continue to celebrate Juneteenth because we can’t afford to forget the struggles of our forefathers and the strength of our people to never give up.
Pastor E. A. Deckard is the Senior Pastor/Founder of the Green House International Church now located, in both Houston, Texas, and the Woodlands, Texas. To contact Pastor Deckard for speaking engagements contact him at email@example.com, follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Periscope @ Pastor E A Deckard or the church website www.ghic.net