Juneteenth honors the black ancestral dream of freedom that is relevant today – Free Press of Jacksonville
Can you imagine the exultant joy of a people who only knew captivity? Who was born in captivity – whose parents and grandparents and great-grandparents only knew captivity? I remember a conversation between Kunta Kinte and Fiddler in the movie “Roots”. Kunta, a newly enslaved African, spoke to Fiddler about freedom. However, freedom was a foreign word to Fiddler, who was born into slavery. But as he listened to Kunta’s gossip about freedom and cleaned the wounds of Kunta’s brutal wounds from the beatings he received for refusing to recognize his slave name, Fiddler gained a new appreciation for “freedom.”
After 246 years of slavery; building a foreign country after 246 years; after 246 years of torture and chains and beatings and hanging and rape and castration and humiliation and humiliation – receiving the news of freedom has undoubtedly evoked innumerable emotions: joy, fear, concern, suspicion, excitement, gratitude, etc.
We can be sure that freedom has always been in consciousness in the minds of people who have been imprisoned for no reason other than skin color. We can also be sure that the enslavement of blacks was in power in the minds of many whites. Indeed, Abraham Lincoln wrote: “My ultimate goal is to save the Union, not to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing a slave, I would. ”
The act of freeing enslaved blacks was actually a pawn in a national chess game – designed to force the states that were part of the Confederate States of America to return to the Union. Remember that the Emancipation Proclamation was only for enslaved people in the Confederation, not those in the Union’s border states. And since the 1863 proclamation only covered areas over which Lincoln had no control, that document actually had little impact on the liberation of enslaved people. However, the President of the Union’s promise of freedom was sweet news to any enslaved person who heard it!
News of freedom reached Savannah in December 1864 when General Sherman’s army overtook the Confederate Army and he donated the city of Savannah to President Abraham Lincoln. The good news of freedom reached enslaved blacks in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. It was three months after the Civil War ended with the Confederate Army surrender in Northern Virginia in April 1865 and six months after the passage of the 13. Amendment banning slavery across the country (Anyike, 2007). This day is called Juneteenth as the combination of June and June 19th.
Black Americans across the country celebrate Juniteenth with parades, parties, picnics, ward meetings, and church services.
When it became clear that they were not entitled to freedom, trapped Africans dreamed of freedom for their children and their children and for future generations. Generations later, their descendants dreamed of freedom from Jim Crow laws and lynching and civil rights violations for themselves and for generations to come.
Generations later, their descendants now dream of freedom from mass imprisonment, systemic racism, political oppression and police brutality for themselves and for future generations.
With blacks still chasing the dream of freedom, some wonder why celebrate something that didn’t materialize. My answer? We celebrate to honor the DREAM – the dream of freedom that our ancestors had and that we still have today.
Yes, true freedom for black Americans is still a postponed dream. Those of us living now must continue to dream of freedom for our future generations. We have to talk loudly. We have to shake up the crowd! We must take a break to honor the DREAM on June 19th, to remind us of the past so that it does not repeat itself. As active change agents, we need to pause in the present to be part of an ongoing solution. We must pause to clarify the vision and sound of freedom that will reverberate in future generations.
We have to pause…. Good Juniteenth!
Maxine L. Bryant, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology and Associate Director of the Center for Africana Studies at Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus. Contact them at 912-344-3602 or email [email protected] For more photos and columns by Maxine L. Bryant, visit SavannahNow.com/lifestyle/.
Jepson Center Juneteenth
When: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. 12.-13. June; Noon, June 12, libation ceremony on the front steps led by historians Vaughnette Goode-Walker and Jamal Toure; 6 p.m. June 15 virtual lecture, registration: tinyurl.com/xw7vyfaj
Where: 207 W. York St.
costs: Free entry for Chatham County residents
Juneteenth in Georgia Southern
• Live on Armstrong Campus: 3: 30-5: 50 pm June 19th. Activities include the Saltwata Players, The Power of the Quilt Presentation, Poetry, the Sankofa African Dance Troupe, and Jamal Toures African Spirit. Funded by the Gullah Geechee Center and the Center for Africana Studies.
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• Georgia Southern Zoom Gullah Geechee Cooking Class from Master Chef Benjamin Dennis; 5:30 p.m. June 19. Individuals attending the live event on Armstrong Campus will be able to watch the Zoom event in Solm’s room 110. To see the Zoom Cooking Class on your own, register here: https://tinyurl.com/535nj83f.
• Georgia Southern College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Social Media Awareness Campaign: Black Liberation, Resilience, and Excellence: Past, Present, and Future – through June 19 – Contributions from past, present, and future African American leaders in academia, faculties, staff , Students and alumni of Georgia Southern. On social media: @GaSouthernCBSS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
What: Annual calf-in
When: 9:30 am – 11:30 am June 19th
Where: North Beach, Tybee Island
What: “Things Left Behind” African art exhibition
When: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. 19-20. June
Where: The Guard House, 13 Van Home Ave., Tybee Island
What: Juniteenth Art Festival
When: 12-8 p.m. 19-20 June
Where: Tybee Pier & Pavilion
Source: TybeeMLK human rights organization on Facebook Tybee MLK
What: “A Return To… Commemorating Juneteenth” curated by Alexis Javier.
When: Noon-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday until June 20th
Where: Sulfur Studios, 2301 Bull St .;
The information: SulfurStudios.org.