Tag Archives: prison

Twenty-First Century Slaves

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Everyone has an opinion, and it doesn’t matter the subject but when it comes to the prison system and incarceration in America, it’s usually driven by skin color. Some view it as the New Jim Crow and, of course, there are others who see nothing wrong with the system at all.

There are agencies that clearly profile based solely on race – “Stop and Frisk” for example. “Stand your Ground” is another law designed to empower vigilante’s to kill based on a perceived fear of a person of color that take us back to a time when the slave catcher had ultimate authority to take and control freedom.

Thankfully our president has made this an issue and hopefully a priority for the rest his administration. The system of over incarcerating people and those who have languished for years in tombs called prisons; and in some cases for crimes they did not commit. The sad irony of people unable to afford the cost of justice being given extreme sentences and put to death fall into this category. Yet, more shameful is the execution of the mentally disabled and life sentences for minors. Further, the lifelong effect once a person is released from having their voting rights taken away forever.

This could easily be compared to the slave catcher and the system of slavery; particularly when there is a long history of lynchings, chain gangs, and the free labor derived from this system. It is a fact that the land of the free has more people in prison than anywhere else on earth, which is a shame. It was not until recently that the disproportionate sentencing of powder cocaine and crack have been modified and shown to be unfair. Still hundreds suffer from the extreme punishment.

It always comes back to the Constitution where it is written under the 13th Amendment that when your freedom can be taken away, which means you then are a slave or at best a system called the New Jim Crow. This is to include the most extreme punishment of being put “in the hole,” where inmates are shackled and locked up for 23 hours per day in solitary confinement if he refused to work. The sad part is this means children too.

All inmates are expected to work for little or nothing, the poorly paid, unsafe work the inmate must do in my opinion has crossed legal boundaries. Let me say clearly that it is not my position that laws and punishment are not necessary. What is disparaging is that it disproportionately affects the minority population of the citizenry.

Most prisons suffer from overcrowding from draconian sentences like twenty-five to life imposed for minor drug offenses, and three-strike laws are akin to chattel slavery. The system has run amuck mainly because of privatization, and it’s time to end the “War on Drugs” and find a better solution to the problem instead of throwing away the key.

Did you know the clothing worn by our soldiers are made by the cheap labor of the incarcerated? In closing, let me suggest that you read Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow”. Maybe a good solution would be to incarcerate the real crooks; the so-called “white collar criminals”. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY: The Angola 3 Story

In the past few days, it has been reported that the last of the Angola 3 will be released from prison. Great news but the entire life of Albert Woodfox has been stolen and much of the last forty year has been spent in solitary confinement. There have been many atrocities at the hands of the American justices system imposed upon black people but this case is one of the worst and dare I say a crime against humanity!

I think we all know that terror is rooted in the foundation of the History of America. African Americans and others are well aware of groups like the KKK, and some may government agencies that are known only by alphabets that use these tactics against some Americans. Surely, it’s been used on people around the world in the name of freedom.

I am only suggesting that there are some crimes committed under the guise of law that are beyond the scope of justice. Case in point, the Angola Three, which I am sure you have never heard of. This is a hideous a case in Louisiana’s prison system that holds the record for the longest incarceration of a human being placed in solitary confinement.

It’s been over 40 years since the day Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox have been held in solitary confinement in Louisiana. The state says they were guilty of murdering a guard at Angola Prison, but Wallace, Woodfox and their network of supporters say they were framed for their political activism as members of the Black Panthers. Since April 17, 1972 or nearly 14,650 days Woodfox and Wallace have been held in solitary confinement living in a six by nine-foot prison cell only being allowed out for an hour a day. This is without question cruel and unusual punishment.

These two men founded the Angola chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1971. A third prisoner, Robert King, joined them a year later. The three campaigned for better-working conditions and racial solidarity between inmates, as well as an end to rape and sexual slavery. Today, two of the three men remain in this condition that Amnesty International continues to support their effort for fair and reasonable justice.

Amnesty USA says it will deliver a petition to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal that bears the signatures of tens of thousands of people from 125 countries asking for his intervention. They are asking “the state of Louisiana and we want the world to know that we are still focusing on this case.

This is a total violation of human rights and civil rights,” King says. “And it is ongoing.” Robert King was released in 2001 when his conviction was overturned, and he pleaded guilty to a lesser offense. I am not saying that a crime was not committed but does this punishment fit the crime.

It has been said that injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. After forty-one years in solitary confinement, seventy-one year old Herman Wallace is free at last. Thankfully, as it has been reported, Albert Woodfox in finally free. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Info about the case: http://angola3.org/thecase.aspx

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports


A Conversation On Race

Image1.I have thought long and hard about writing this post about the mythical concept of having a conversation about race as our president suggests. Personally, I am so tired of hearing after each brutal incident or racial issue that we are told to be non-violent and that this is a teachable moment.

Frankly, both are insulting! For example, do you think anything would have changed in Baltimore if the riots had not occurred? NO, it was the acts of violence that brought the media who told the story of the continued problem of race relations and the poverty that is compared to a third world country on American shores.

I can start and finish the conversation on race in one sentence. “Go to church on Sunday, look around as you worship, and you will realize that it is the most segregated hour and place in America.” How can you have a conversation with people who have you believing that the Savor looks like them!

I take issue with those from the right and those of the other hue who paint every African American as a thug, baby momma, or worst. Let me remind you that there are the hairs of the people during slavery that saw all Negroes as slaves: freeman or not – a view based on skin color.

In the 1960s, there were also people of that ilk when asked about the March on Washington said in overwhelming numbers that “Martin Luther Coon”, as they referred to him, was stirring up trouble. They said there was no problem with race. When, in fact, Negroes could not use the same toilet or drink out of the same water fountain.

I think it’s safe to say that every living soul can see that racism exists in our culture, particularly directed toward black men. From the beginning of the nation, by law, and laws decided by the Supreme Court expressed such as truth. How in God’s name can there be a conversation? I would compare them to those Whites who chose to die rather than admit that slavery was wrong and should end. Bill O, Sean H and those of the Fox News crowd who has ginned-up like minded people with the view that “there is nothing to see her”. Oh, let’s not forget the Drugster who has said he wants to refer to African Americans as “Niggers”.

Let’s be honest, the subject of race has been with us and against “us” from the day they wrote the Constitution. It was always intended that “Coloreds” be a nation of people living in a nation without a nationality. This is about “privilege” for those who have been the majority and know that it is threatened. As the country continues to evolve it is predicted that as soon as the next generation that privilege may soon end, which is why Voting Rights laws were gutted.

I can go on and on about the historical facts that are clear and present. They called it the building of a nation. We call it building a nation on our backs and through slavery meant we got nothing as a result. Just look at police misconduct and killing; it should show all people that “racism is here”. The fact is that it has been prevalent for the last four-hundred year with ample evidence to support this claim. Therefore, any so-called conversation will be like striking a match in a windstorm.

Therefore, the so-called conversation on race in any serious way is like striking a match in a windstorm. Any sense of a conversation is mute because white folk do not believe there is a problem – never have and never will, as they are the beneficiaries of this terrorist behavior. Or more simply put – nothing to see here!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Rape Of Juveniles In Prisons

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I posted this piece some time ago, and it is still a crisis when the school to prison pipe continue to funnel our you people into prisons at alarming rates. The video was provided by Leila Mcdowell that addresses the epidemic many face when incarcerated. The information speaks to an issue most of us don’t know or think about because it is not widely communicated via the mainstream media.

In the case of the information provided by Leila Mcdowell, a profoundly professional journalist, intellectual, activist, communications strategist, and Washington Correspondent posted a powerful story about the rape of juveniles in prison. Most know, yet far more close their eyes to the many dangers on every level concerning the prison industrial complex. However, Mcdowell’s presentation on this topic is worthy of our attention.

It is said, that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you have a child this video is worth a BILLION WORDS. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!!!

Courtesy of Leila Mcdowell
Visit and “Like” her Face Book Page

Never Forget: Strange Fruit

Every day, it seems, there is news of another unarmed black man gunned down simply by the police. These actions are eerily similar to the lynching’s that took place in the early half of the 20th century for pretty much the same reason as those murdered by white police in our society today. Let us remember the fallen and never forget!

The reason could be as simple as the concept of “Manifest Destiny”, which speaks to white  privilege. White America has never accepted African American’s as anything more than illegal aliens, in spite of the fact they captured the race against their will and brought to American in chains. I have repeatedly said, “We are a nation of people living in a nation without a nationality” basically because the Constitutions tells us so. You do remember the 3/5th human phrase.

In the wake of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager who was shot and killed by Zimmerman in 2012, Jordan Davis, who was also unarmed, and all of the daily killings at the hands of the police in the most recent terror upon black men killed because white men claimed they feared for their lives. Eric Gardner who was choked to death. Michael Brown, John Crawford and worst of all the kid murder while playing in the park. All lynched but just by gun!

Let’s also include the murders and shootings by the police, sanctioned by law, against African American’s such as Oscar Grant and countless others. Then there are people like Garrick Hopkins, 60, and his brother, Carl Hopkins Jr., 61, two brothers from West Virginia, who were shot and killed by a white man for what he claimed as trespassing on his land – when, in fact, they were inspecting a shed on their own property.

The attached  video is straightforward yet nuanced. The song “Strange Fruit” tells a story that must be told to our youth. We must never forget because when you forget history it is destined to repeat itself. We know the importance of Billie Holiday’s recording. But this indispensable video vivid imagery the history of the struggle against lynching, something that was very real, and for Black rights with a wealth of common history of African Americans, Jewish Americans, and the American Left. It is part of our history, part of our heritage. Teach your children and learn this chapter in our past.

The song “Strange Fruit” creates immediate controversy. Call it a grim reminder of an unnecessarily painful and ugly chapter in American history. The song retains its force, because the issues it raises about the legacy of racial terrorism in American society still resonate. The story tells a song that compelled its listeners to confront the past, which was genuinely disturbing then, and it is no less disturbing today.

While many people assume Strange Fruit was written by Billie Holiday herself, it actually began as a poem by a Jewish schoolteacher and union activist from the Bronx, who later set it to music. Disturbed by a photograph of a lynching, the teacher wrote the stark verse and brooding melody about the horror of lynching under the pseudonym Lewis Allan in 1938. It was first performed at a New York teacher’s union rally and was brought to the attention of the manager of Cafe Society, a popular Greenwich Village nightclub, who introduced Billy Holiday to the writer.

LISTEN TO THE WORDS AND NEVER FORGET THE TERROR!!!

“Southern trees bear a strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black body swinging in the Southern breeze, strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. Pastoral scene of the gallant South, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh, And the sudden smell of burning flesh! Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, for the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, for the sun to rot, for a tree to drop, here is a strange and bitter crop.”

Let’s look at the murder of young black men and boys murdered today as a modern day version of lynchings. The murders an evolution of destruction and black people are nothing more than pray! They tell us not to forget 911 and the Holocaust – know this, we will never forget what you did to black people! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Wake Up!!!

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I have long wanted to write a message that speaks to black men and family. I know this is a very polarizing and controversial subject, but it’s a crucial piece of the African American Diaspora. I think I can speak to this issue because, not unlike many African Americans, I have been touched by the consequences and the aftermath of not having my father in the home.

This guy abandoned me while I was in my mother’s worm as a teenage mother. I never met him until I was about ten and have only been in his presence for maybe two hours in my entire life. However, my grandfather was the man in my life who taught me how to be a man. His teachings resonate profoundly within my every waking moment and dare I say my spirit. I used his teachings to raise my son and to also teach my grandson. It is my passion for sharing the same knowledge with others, as they navigate the troubled waters of life.

We are, as a community in crisis, in terms of Black Men, fatherhood, and family. We need men who give of themselves to the benefit of others, raising children, empowering the community, carry themselves with dignity and respect, but more importantly to “represent”.

It is my sincere desire that we understand that there is a conditioning in our communities by those who control it. This is not an excuse, rather an explanation as to why these behaviors were never unlearned and have been passed down from generation to generation. Over my relatively short lifetime, I have been referred to as Colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black, and an African American, which were the polite terms assigned to make known that African Americans were not American citizens. We are, in essence, nothing more than a nation of people living in a nation without a nationality.

Images are and have been projected of black men falsely, most often, glorifying their role in society as thugs, gangstas, criminals, buffoons, clowns, being worthless, and hopeless have permeated for far too long. I know that many of you know this is not the case by and large. Nonetheless, when you open a newspaper or watch TV, this is how we are represented. The assassination of our manhood must end or at least diminished and only we can change it.

The absence of the strong, responsible black man holding it down, in the family and community, is destroying us as a people. I was taught a very significant lesson early in life, and reinforced every day of my life, by my Grandfather who said, “I raised you to be a man and as a man you don’t know what you might have to do but when the time comes you do it”. My interpretation of that daily message was preparation plus opportunity equals SUCCESS and that the difference between a man and a boy is the lessons he learns.

These platitudes are essential to the survival of our children and, frankly, our existence. There needs to be a man in the lives of these boys, and girls, because the father’s role is to be an example, a role model, to guide, direct, and pass on the wisdom he’s gained. For example, how can you expect your daughters to choose a man if she has no model to base a relationship on if the is nothing to gage one on?

Ladies, please stop thinking that you can make your son a man – you can’t. You can raise, teach and nurture him – but you cannot make him a man – because you are not one. It may not or does not have to be your man, but there has to be a man present in the lives of these children. Most of you are in church every Sunday but don’t understand the most basic rule of life.

Much respect to the ladies that are holding it down, I applaud you, I know what an enormous job that is, my mother did it, and I was no walk in the park. If it had not been for Granddaddy, I would be lost – dead or in jail. It does take a village to raise a child. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Join: BLACK EMPOWERED MEN

#JohnWills


What Happened To The BLACK FAMILY?

2I wrote this article sometime ago and since there is so much discussion about black people these days. I decided to share it once again. I was wondering what is your view on the topic. In a past life, one of many I’ve enjoyed, I taught a college course called the Psychology of the Black Family. There was one assignment given to the class to write a term paper on “The Breakdown of the African American Family”.

As I read through some of the thirty or so papers, I found several very significant points and a common theme throughout the papers. I decided to capture some of the key points from those research papers to share with you. My intent is to, maybe, create some dialog within our consciousness as to why the black family, our community, and black people are the least likely to work together as a solid unit to the benefit of each other as other ethnic groups do.

During slavery, and from the 1800’s through the 1980’s, the concept of family in our community was tight-knit, strongly woven, and the envy of most cultures. The African American family unit survived in spite of unimaginable cruelty and adversity. It is only recently, during the last thirty years or so that the African American family became dysfunctional and lost its direction. One has to think for some twisted reason we do not feel whole because, in many cases, we allow others define us.

I can recall a powerful statement made by one of the students who expressed that she thinks the different social pressures on black men and women have contributed to the weak traditional family structure. Black women have been able to achieve more economic and educational success than black men, leading to them being higher wage earners. This inequality has eroded black women’s reliance on men and their willingness to compromise on their needs or expectations, which in turn has led to resentment and disappointment on both sides.

Black women raise children, too often alone, and the bitterness that difficult task creates causes some women to make derogatory complaints against men in general, tainting their daughters and shaming their sons. Also, it seems that black women do not often hold their sons to as high a standard as their daughters, making them further vulnerable.

If proper behavior is not modeled for young people, they have difficulty fulfilling those expectations. This creates the perfect ingredients for the dismal situations to occur in our community. She went on to say that a lot of that has to do with our values, and the lack of knowing the importance of loving our communities, our families, and ourselves.

These are 12 key factors expressed from my student’s outstanding research papers:

1. The Vietnam War: Hundreds of thousands of strong, intelligent, hardworking black men were shipped abroad to be murdered, returned home shell shocked, severely damaged, or addicted. Many of which were unable to get back on track after returning from war because the government abandoned them.

2. COINTELPRO: The covert actions of J. Edgar Hoover in the wake of the Civil Rights Era and the Black Power Movements all but insured that anyone speaking out against the governments wrong doings would receive either long prison sentences or bullets. This fear silenced our forward progression, fueling distrust and removing many of our leaders, as well as potential future leaders.

3. The Assassinations of the 1960’s: Left a huge void in leadership that has yet to be filled, particularly within the Civil Rights Movement to include within the community. Instead, a universal acceptance of the pimp/hustler image in popular culture that presented alternative heroes to black youth, which resonant in the form of Gangster Rap. This genre leads to the glorification of the criminal element amidst immature minds that lack familial structure. In addition to black on black crime and staying silent while, black youth are murdered by other black youth.

4. The Feminist Movement: Backed by liberal white women to fight for the equal rights of women; the same rights most black men had yet to fully be granted. A lot of black women got lost in the rhetoric of how men were keeping them down, losing sight of the fact that black men were down there with them. To this day, the power exchange and infighting among black men and women, is sadly considered the norm, a tool enumerated by Willie Lynch.

5. Oliver North & the Contras: The volume of drugs, mainly crack cocaine that flooded the black community during the 80 to which most of the drugs came in on U.S. ships with the support of the Government. The CRACK era escalated death and incarceration rates, unwanted pregnancies, neighborhood prostitution and a culture of violence. Folks were selling their kids to hit the pipe, and selling their souls to sell what went in that pipe. This epidemic destroyed our community in ways slavery could never have done. This form of contemporary was the cruelest type of slavery imposed upon our communities.

6. Mass media brainwashing & mind control: The influences of propaganda and distorted images of beauty and male/female roles. Shows like Life Styles of the Rich and Famous, Dynasty, Different Strokes, and the Jefferson’s for example. The American conscious during the 80’s was money driven. Materialism became the idea that stuff defines you and others.

7. Education: The lack of proper education, financing support, and knowledge being taught by African American professionals. In addition, our leaders and academics failed us as they fled the hood in droves for the suburbs during those crazy 80’s. Prior to this period, kids saw on a daily basis married couples that looked like them, even if they didn’t live in their households. Yet the great migration to greener pastures left a void in the community leaving it to be filled by the image of the hustler-pimp-thug, ruthlessness, and violence.

8. Communication: This speaks to education of self and listening to the wrong messengers. The communication of values – parents became unavailable to hand down family legacies, traditions and value systems. We’re like POW’s locked in the same building for 20 years, unable to converse thru cement walls confined by our personas, egos, insecurities, isms etc.

9. The Black Church: Many churches have lost their way. The business of religion is bankrupting our communities. Many churches are not touching the lives of those outside of the church most in need. Just like back in the day when it was the design of slave masters, who did so much wickedness to use this as a tactic by offering a bible and in most instances nothing more than pain and the promise of a better life to keep us in line. This is not the same as faith which was necessary to survive our struggles.

10. Urbanization – work and home were once connected. Parents were near their families, and children understood work as a way of life. Urbanization helped create “latch key” kids and images of hard work disappeared while replacing it with material objects.

11. Social Services: The advent of the system of welfare that demanded the absence of the influence of the black man in the home. Before Claudine, during the early 50’s, welfare was a midwestern farmer hook-up and back then you HAD to be a complete family to apply. So the laws for welfare changed in the inner-city while many in the farm lands of Mid America started to change in culture to fit the application for welfare. For decades to follow, trillions of dollars in government spending on ineffective social programs in our cities have not by enlarge benefited the mobility of the family.

12. Segregation: Jim Crow Laws and Black Codes that prevented legal marriages, dehumanized people, and discriminatory practices in work/education left many African Americans unable to access resources necessary to build strong family bases causing disillusioned men/husbands/fathers to abandonment rather than face daily reminder of their “failure”.

The next time you look in the mirror think about want happened. And that’s my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE!


What Would Jesus Say?

It is safe to say that most people believe Jesus is coming back and/or think he is the savior of mankind. Whether you are a believer or not, as a result of the conditions of man might be the reason he has not returned. I’ll tell you that if I were him and see the sad state of affairs man has created, I would seek out a Noah and start all over again!

When I look at the senseless murders due to wars, be it in the streets or against nations or this divided nation whose views on feeding the homeless, the lack of healthcare, poverty, the murders and other acts against religious thinking proves civilization is in despair. Hippocrates use as justification their support of such evil by adding scripture in God’s name. My sense they believe their view is the natural order of things or maybe God’s plan for life. I cannot and will not speak for God, but I do not believe this is what God planned.

When it comes to the wretchedness of government and its leaders, it shameful to see the actions and hateful diatribes about race, the least of thee, and religion. As you know, all of these issues are commonly used by the right-wing nuts to vilify the poor. Admittedly, and shamefully, race is and has always been a stain on the soul of America. As I began to ponder just what kind of country we would have without a government that mandates laws for civilization to exist. What would Jesus or you higher power think!

More disturbing is that religion, God, and Jesus have become little more than instruments of the wicked. For example, on any given Sundays between the hours of 9 AM – 1 PM is the most-segregated hours in the country. I can’t speak to what is in the mind of others except for what they say, and some of the vitriol gives a good indication as to what’s in their hearts. I, in good conscience, rail against the racially charged political environment, and for sure the teabaggers designed declaration of “taking back their country.”

Finally, on the issue of justice and racial justice in particular; maybe understanding that Jesus came from that region of the world where his hue had to be of color could more likely be one of the reasons why he had to be crucified! Just as was the case with the murder of Jesus; there are people who are killing the messenger of truth now.

What I think Jesus would say, as his mission was for the salvation of the least of thee, I think he would say – “Thou shalt not Kill.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective.


Stand Your Ground Against Injustice

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History has proven there is only one way to get the attention of unmovable ideologies to achieve change. Matching and protests are strategies, which is nothing more than a good show for the cameras. For example, the March on Washington and the Million Man March produced little in terms of measurable results. On the other hand, BOYCOTT’s work – the Birmingham Bus Boycott and the Martin Luther King Holiday Boycott on the state of Arizona – WORKED! It is time to stop BS-ing and BOYCOTT INJUSTICE and the system that supports connected to it. We will then get change. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Remembering Juneteeth

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We must never forget Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that those enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.

The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. Many attempts to explain the two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years.

The story often told is of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another story is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. Then there is yet another story that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version, could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question. Regardless, the conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

“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.”

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former ‘masters’ – attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom.

North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants.

The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in the tradition today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in, and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations.

The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, who wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor.

Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.

The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states creating Juneteenth committees continues to increase. Respect and appreciation for all of our differences grow out of exposure and working together. Getting involved and supporting Juneteenth celebrations creates new bonds of friendship and understanding among us. This indeed brightens our future – and that is the Spirit of Juneteenth. So lest not forget!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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