18 June 2011

Juneteenth - A Celebration and Anger

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

This story is a living story.  There is more to this than just the mistreatment of others. This is not History to be put aside when the book is read, it has a ripple effect that goes deeper than the attempt to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
Juneteenth is 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 the 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. [...]

Later attempts to explain this 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. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is 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. 

The organization devoted to making Juneteenth a recognized holiday will have an event tomorrow in Washington DC and they have invited Speaker of the House John Boehner to attend. This is Important.
When the House convened this year the members read the Constitution. This grandstanding was silly and tolerable until they decided to omit the icky parts. Like the "Three Fifths" Clause.

More on this  follows...

(Washington, DC) - Leaders of the Campaign to Establish Juneteenth as a National Holiday Observance will return to the nation's capitol for the annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance hopeful that congress will enact legislation to commemorate Juneteenth National Freedom Day, officially marking the "19th of June" on all calendars as America's 2nd Independence Day. Speaker of the House John Boehner has been invited to discuss the importance of the three-fifths clause of the u.S. Constitution.

"The omission of the reading of the three-fifths clause during the historic reading of the U.S. Constitution by congress left open the question of the importance of slavery and the significance Americans of African descent made to the founding of America," states Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Founder & Chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) and the National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC). "I have issued an invitation for Speaker of the House John Boehner to discuss the three-fifths clause during the 2011 WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance at the U.S. Capitol."
Click for full Press Release from National Juneteenth Observance Foundation 

What the New York Times wrote in January when this occurred. (sorry, pop up ad...)

The U.S. Constitution - Article 1 Section 2 - originally said
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
This was modified by the 14th Amendment, Section 2. It was disingenuous to cut this section, and required more justification from the Speaker of the House.

Nina Simone
Not one ounce of phony

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