Juneteenth – What It Is and Why We Ought to Rejoice It – UAB Institute for Human Rights Weblog

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Alt text: A sign that reads “July 4th” with a line through it, scratching it out, and instead, with “JUNETEENTH is my independence day” written on it to bring attention to the inequality that continued to exist in America and the hypocrisy of the “freedom for all” phrase in the Constitution during its conception, when it did not apply to everyone.
Picture 1 – Supply: Yahoo Pictures

Juneteenth has been traditionally celebrated by many Individuals because the late 1860s, but it is just not too long ago that it has grow to be mainstream. At the moment we give attention to why that’s, what Juneteenth celebrates, and the way we are able to do a greater job incorporating this vacation into our lives.  Though it has been round for therefore lengthy, Juneteenth was solely acknowledged as a federal vacation on June 19th, 2021, following the summer time protests of the Black Lives Matter motion in response to the brutality skilled by George Floyd by the hands of the legislation enforcement system.  June 19th, or Juneteenth as it’s recognized extensively by those that have celebrated it since its founding, is the day we commemorate the abolition of slavery in America, liberating enslaved African Individuals by the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Modification.

Historical past of Juneteenth, The Emancipation Proclamation, and The Thirteenth Modification

Alt text: An illustration depicting a chain that has been sliced in half, with the words, “JUNETEENTH, June 19, 1865 – Galveston, Texas” written between the two halves of the broken chain, representing freedom for all enslaved people.
Picture 2 – Supply: Yahoo Pictures

The Civil Warfare was one of many bloodiest wars that Individuals have ever fought, and it lasted 4 lengthy years. The battle was between the Union, which was made up of a lot of the northern states above the Mason-Dixon Line, and anybody under that line seceded from the primary nation and swore loyalty to the Confederacy. The Mason-Dixon line, which was handed in 1861, was designed to be a compromise that allowed Southern states to proceed to make use of slave labor within the South of their fields and farms, whereas the Northern states have been transferring to abolish slavery inside their boundaries. Whereas the North trusted their seaports and industries, the South primarily produced the money crops like cotton, rice, and indigo, that have been being shipped throughout the oceans and transported by railroads throughout the lands. There have been just a few border states within the center that didn’t wish to quit slavery of their states. Lincoln, recognizing that he wanted these states within the Union to have an opportunity to win the Civil Warfare, permitted them to proceed to make use of slavery whereas being part of the Union.

In an try to alter the course of the Civil Warfare and hold the nation from breaking into two elements, President Abraham Lincoln needed to weaken the Accomplice forces so the Union forces might be victorious. This, he assumed, might be performed by concentrating on the Confederacy’s financial system and financial infrastructure, which at the moment, was primarily depending on slave labor. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 as an govt order, liberating all of the enslaved people in all Accomplice states that didn’t yield to the Union troops. With the passage of this doc, the South may not depend on unpaid labor, leaving them in monetary turmoil and giving them no different choice however to give up to the Union troops. The doc is basically believed to have abolished slavery solely in America, however the actuality is that this was a political transfer throughout a battle by the President to make sure that the Southern financial system could be devastated. This proclamation didn’t embrace the border states which have been already a part of the Union however have been using slavery of their states. This meant that the enslaved people in these border states continued to be enslaved. This proclamation additionally excluded those that lived within the southern states which had already surrendered to the Union, that means that those that didn’t insurgent towards the Union have been allowed to proceed to make use of slavery as their financial system. What the Proclamation did, nonetheless, was rework the morality and trigger for preventing the Civil Warfare. The Civil Warfare started over the query of whether or not slavery ought to exist or not, with the Vice President of the Confederacy delivering a speech declaring the sole objective of secession to be the disagreement on slavery between the Union and the Confederacy.  Nevertheless, to President Lincoln, being victorious meant maintaining the nation intact, and the abolition of slavery was an aftermath. As soon as the Proclamation was handed, many Individuals have been satisfied that the battle was being fought for the abolition of slavery in its entirety in the USA. The Proclamation even gave means for newly freed African Individuals to hitch the Union military and assist liberate their brothers and sisters within the Accomplice states.

Whereas the Union’s victory was usually factor for the progress of America towards equality amongst all individuals because it was first outlined within the Structure, the Emancipation Proclamation was not the doc to realize this aim. Though it modified the trajectory of the Civil Warfare, reworking the preliminary trigger to maintain the nation united, into an ethical reason behind abolishing slavery, it was not till the Thirteenth Modification was handed that slavery was actually abolished in all of the states of the nation. This Modification, which had adopted the right channels of the Legislative department, was handed proper after the Civil Warfare ended, and proper earlier than the rebellious states have been admitted again into the Union. On December 6, 1865, the Thirteenth Modification was formally ratified into the Structure of the USA. Together with the Thirteenth Modification, the passage of the Fourteenth Modification, which granted citizenship to all previously enslaved people, and the Fifteenth Modification, which granted suffrage rights to African American males, altogether addressed the Civil Warfare’s conflicts, offering a ultimate Constitutional answer to the problem of slavery in America.

So, the place does the time period “Juneteenth” come from? Though the Emancipation Proclamation had handed in 1863 and the Thirteenth Modification had handed in 1864, it was not till two months after the Civil Warfare had ended, that most of the enslaved people in most Southern states had been made conscious of their free standing. On June 19th, 1865, two thousand Union troopers arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the liberty of all who have been enslaved there, and the newly freed African Individuals coined the time period “Juneteenth” to commemorate the day they obtained independence and might be actually free.

The Continued Wrestle for Freedom and Equality

Alt text: An image with an American flag in black and white with an African American person walking across it in black and white stripes, with the words, “FROM SLAVE TO CRIMINAL WITH ONE AMENDMENT” reading across the top.
Picture 3 – Supply: Yahoo Pictures

The tip of the Civil Warfare, the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, have been speculated to be the official finish to slavery in America, however many students have identified that slavery solely remodeled right into a modified system. These students spotlight points with the wording of the Thirteenth Modification, which states that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, besides as a punishment for crime whereof the celebration shall have been duly convicted, shall exist inside the USA, or anywhere topic to their jurisdiction.” The modification abolished slavery in all cases, besides as a punishment for crimes, and the Reconstruction Period, which adopted the top of the Civil Warfare, took benefit of the loophole within the Thirteenth Modification. Within the Eighteen Nineties, legalized segregation turned the brand new regular. The South had confronted quite a lot of loss, each to its infrastructure on account of the battle, in addition to its financial system (primarily held up by slavery), as a result of liberating of their enslaved laborers. Moreover, many white southerners additionally weren’t prepared to just accept the newly freed African Individuals, who they didn’t view as equals.

The notorious Jim Crow legal guidelines have been proposed as an answer to the entire White Southerners’ issues with the end result of the battle. These legal guidelines have been made to criminalize as many newly freed people as potential, to re-enslave them within the jail methods, and pressure them to assist rebuild the nation, as that they had as soon as performed beneath slavery following the Revolutionary Warfare. The Jim Crow legal guidelines criminalized things like being unemployed, not bowing to white individuals whereas strolling on the streets, ingesting from a “Whites Solely” water fountain, and plenty of different innocent, on a regular basis actions that displeased any white residents of the realm. Many occasions, lies have been advised about African Individuals merely to land them in prisons and put them to work. These legal guidelines have been designed to be a criminalization of blackness.

Alt text: An image of the historical marker found at Sloss Furnaces regarding the racial terrorism and convict leasing that took place at the facility. It reads, “Thousands of black people were the victims of lynching and racial violence in the United States between 1877 and 1950. Lynching was a form of racial terrorism that went beyond only hanging, often including death by gunshot, burning, or mutilation. After the Civil War, violent resistance to equal rights for black people led to decades of racial subordination. Alabama’s mining industry, which relied on enslaved people’s labor since the 1840s, continued such abuse and exploitation after slaver was abolished. Southern legislators used a loophole in the 13th Amendment to pass laws to criminalize free black people as vagrants and loiterers. Local governments then sold incarcerated individuals to private and government entities for labor. Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company used this practice of ‘Convict Leasing’ in Jefferson County, leasing predominantly black laborers to work at the Brookside and Coalburg mines died while working there. Without legal protections, black laborers, and black leaders of labor movements, were often terrorized to prevent them from challenging unjust and dangerous employment conditions. Although the names of many victims of racial terror are unknown, over 300 documented lynchings took place in Alabama, with at least 30 victims in Jefferson county.”
Picture 4 – Supply: Kala Bhattar; A picture taken at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama

This was additionally the time when Convict Leasing methods started, the place imprisoned people could be leased to companies and the state to work as laborers for no matter positions they wanted to be stuffed. This might be engaged on farmlands, working with heavy equipment, and even in coal mines. Our personal Sloss Furnaces, the well-known Metal and Iron plant that remodeled Birmingham from a small city into the massive metropolis it’s immediately, made use of Convict Leasing as nicely. To learn extra concerning the historical past of the jail methods in America and in Birmingham, in addition to particulars concerning the convict leasing packages, click on right here.

The exception within the Thirteenth Modification has immediately led America to have the very best fee of mass incarceration on the planet and has given option to the Jail Industrial Advanced. America homes solely about 5% of the world’s inhabitants, but the mass incarceration fee is so giant that 20% of the world’s jail inhabitants is made up of Individuals alone. This isn’t solely unjust, pricey, and inefficient, it additionally shares its roots within the racist historical past of America’s founding. Lots of those that find yourself in jail are disproportionately individuals of shade, which speaks to the systemic racism current inside our establishments. What’s worse, most of the individuals held in native jails haven’t even been charged with any crimes. They’re awaiting their trial, too poor to submit the excessive bail quantities. Nonetheless, others have lived out sentences for crimes they’ve by no means dedicated. This atrocious checklist goes on and on with injustices, but a easy answer is to chop down on our incarceration charges. One purpose why that is greater than a difficulty of criminality may be decided by wanting on the Angola Jail in Louisiana, a plantation farm that operates as a state penitentiary, with their prisoners in chains (like enslaved people of the previous), officers on horseback (like overseers on the plantations), and the farmland that they’re anticipated to until, harvest and package deal meals for the remainder of the group. Till white supremacy and racist ideology live on in America, so too will these unjust types of oppression, clouded by the authorized cowl supplied to them by the justice system.

Alt text: An image depicting a line of inmates, all who look like they are people of color, each holding a shovel in hand walking in a line inside the penitentiary, as a white man rides on a horse away from them.
Picture 5 – Supply: Yahoo Pictures

These information are bleak however obligatory for everybody to know, in order to take heed to the continued battle for true equality on this nation for African Individuals, and others who’ve handled oppression all through the historical past of this nation. Many individuals assume that slavery died following the Civil Warfare, or that it was “greater than 200 years in the past, so what can we do about it?” But, the truth stays that slavery by no means died, however solely remodeled into a contemporary, industrialized model of the identical system, which now incorporates a wider umbrella of individuals to oppress. Juneteenth shouldn’t be solely a celebration of the resistance, braveness, and triumphs over oppression by individuals of our previous, but additionally a day to return collectively and deal with the brand new types of oppression we face in society immediately. It’s a continuation of the legacy of freedom, equality, and justice began by these earlier than us.

Significance of Juneteenth

Alt text: A collage of various African American historical figures, from Fredrick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Muhammad Ali and Louis Armstrong, Dr. King, Malcom X, to modern-day influencers such as Sidney Poitier, President Obama, Michelle Obama, and Oprah Winfrey. Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, culture, heritage, ancestry, and the progress towards peace, equality, and justice.
Picture 6 – Supply: Yahoo Pictures

Juneteenth was formally acknowledged as a vacation in Texas, which was the primary state to take action in 1979. It has not too long ago been acknowledged as a federal vacation since 2021 after President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth Nationwide Independence Day Act. Juneteenth is a day to have fun the shared historical past of African Individuals, but additionally the progress in the direction of peace, freedom, equality, and justice. Fredrick Douglass, a well-known orator, writer, and abolitionist, in 1852, had famously requested his viewers in a speech he delivered on July 4th, what Independence Day meant for many who have been enslaved in America. Juneteenth is the true Independence Day for many individuals who acknowledge the hypocrisy of the Founding Fathers, who fought the Revolutionary Warfare for “freedom” whereas enslaving African Individuals and stealing lands from the Native Individuals. Juneteenth is a time for the rejuvenation of tradition amongst a bunch of individuals whose cultures have been stolen from them, and all that they have been left behind with are their shared ancestry and shared histories. This present day is a day to instill a way of group regardless of these hardships and losses. Juneteenth can be a time to replicate on the previous, rejoice within the resilience and solidarity of those that fought for this freedom, and focus on present occasions and find out how to greatest strategy them transferring ahead. Juneteenth is a day to be taught from the previous, reside gratefully within the current, and put together for the long run.

How Is It Celebrated and Who Can Rejoice It?

Alt text: An image depicting a Juneteenth celebration with song and dance, in a celebration of cultural heritage.
Picture 7 – Supply: Yahoo Pictures

There are a lot of methods to have fun Juneteenth. Many cities maintain parades and festivals, with native black-owned companies and meals vans as distributors for the occasion. These occasions would possibly embrace distinguished visitor audio system and workshops on varied subjects annually, primarily based on the group’s wants and needs. Others have fun the vacation by holding potlucks, household gatherings, and yard barbecues for a extra intimate celebration with household and mates. If you wish to have fun Juneteenth however usually are not comfy participating in group actions, there are various issues you are able to do within the comforts of your own home, or with family and friends members as nicely to honor at the present time. For one, you could possibly be taught concerning the historical past of Juneteenth. If you’re studying this text, then good job, you’re already celebrating it!

You may educate your self concerning the historical past of slavery, the Civil Warfare, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth Modification, and some other matter that you just may not be too positive about because it pertains to Juneteenth and why you will need to have fun it. You are able to do this by going to a museum close to you, just like the Legacy Museum in Huntsville, which is a good historic walkthrough from the occasions of slavery to mass incarceration immediately, or the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which focuses on an in depth historical past of the Civil Rights motion that occurred within the coronary heart of Birmingham. You may watch a documentary about these subjects, together with “The 13th” on Netflix, which takes a deep dive into the loophole of the Thirteenth Modification that gave rise to the mass incarceration disaster we face immediately. You may hearken to a podcast, like “Deliberate Indifference“, a podcast by Mary Scott Hodgins that focuses on the native Birmingham historical past of policing and gives particulars about convict leasing practices in Alabama. You might learn literature written by Black authors, whether or not they be informational, like “Medical Apartheid” by Harriet A. Washington, or fictional just like the brief story, “Recitatif” by Tony Morrison. You might help Black-owned companies, domestically or on-line, corresponding to shopping for your books from a Black-owned bookstore or going out to eat at a Black-owned restaurant. You might educate others concerning the significance of Juneteenth, together with your mates, members of the family, and even co-workers. As an ally, you possibly can possibly choose up a shift in your Black pal who might wish to have fun Juneteenth with their household, or if you’re somebody in a supervisory place, you could possibly give a Black co-worker the time without work to have fun Juneteenth. Encourage and empower your Black mates, members of the family, or co-workers, to really feel comfy to share their opinions and voice their issues. You might even volunteer at any native Juneteenth occasion to assist make the occasions profitable!

Native Juneteenth Celebrations to Attend

Alt text: An image of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where they host a Juneteenth celebration every year, and spread the festivities to all in the Birmingham community. On their Juneteenth celebration day, admissions to the museum are free so that people in the community (and visitors from other places) can learn and appreciate the local Civil Rights history that took place in the heart of Birmingham.
Picture 8 – Supply: Yahoo Pictures; A picture of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the place they host a Juneteenth celebration yearly, and unfold the festivities to all within the Birmingham group. On their Juneteenth celebration day, admissions to the museum are free so that folks in the neighborhood (and guests from different locations) can be taught and respect the native Civil Rights historical past that occurred within the coronary heart of Birmingham

There are a lot of native occasions that you could attend to have fun Juneteenth in Birmingham, Alabama. Listed here are just a few that could be of curiosity:

  • Juneteenth: The Cookout, hosted by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on June 17, from 10 am-4 pm. There can be meals vans, reside leisure, a youngsters’s village, tournaments, meals competitions, family tree workshops, and even a free tour of the museum!
  • Juneteenth Social is hosted by the UAB Black Alumni community on the Southern Kitchen Roof Prime Bar on June seventeenth from 7 pm to 11 pm. Tickets are $25 every, and the proceeds go to the Kappa Delta Omega Psi Phi memorial scholarship for incoming African American Male college students.
  • Second Annual Juneteenth Freedom Celebration, hosted by The Lifting As We Climb Basis on June 18th, from 2 pm-9 pm on the Arlington Historic Home in Birmingham. There can be meals, enjoyable, schooling, leisure, and fireworks, and the tickets begin at $20 for early fowl tickets and $25 for common admissions. Carry small tents and garden chairs, and be able to eat from the meals vans on web site.
  • Juneteenth within the Magic Metropolis 2023, hosted by Simone’s Kitchen ATL, on June 18, from 4 pm-10 pm on the Membership M Compound. There can be meals vans, distributors, reside bands, fireworks, African dances, and varied different leisure. Tickets begin at $15 for Early Fowl tickets and $20 for common admissions.
  • Juneteenth Pop Up Artwork Exhibit, hosted by Studio 2500 on June 16, at 6 pm for all of the inventive, artistic of us. Admissions begin at $10 per particular person, youngsters beneath 13 are free, and tickets may be bought on-line at their web site. They’ll have meals, music, and an open mic, so deliver garden chairs and your personal drinks, and take within the creations of our fellow Birmingham native artists and performers.
  • Juneteenth Open Mic is a digital occasion being held on June 19th to spotlight musicians, poets, hip-hop artists, and different Black artists who wish to take part. If you’re an area artist and also you wish to improve your followers, that is the occasion for you. In case you simply wish to present up just about to help native artists, you are able to do that to purchase going to their web site and buying tickets to vote. Tickets begin at $10, whether or not you’re performing, part of the viewers, or perhaps a vendor. Once more, this can be a digital occasion, so all you want is your laptop computer and web!

Nevertheless you select to spend the day, ensure to take heed to what Juneteenth represents to you and to these round you, and collectively we are able to actively, and deliberately work to make our world a greater place for future generations!


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