Category Archives: ~ Culture & History

HISTORICAL FIGURES YOU DIDN’T KNOW …


Might be or WERE part of that…one drop rule – BLACK
Booker T. WashingtonBooker T. Washington born in 1856 of an unknown white father and black mother, was an example of miscegenation. He was an influencing educator and advisor to the president of the United States in his lifetime.
J. Edgar Hoover  Image result for was j edgar hoover biracial

Hitler’s Jewish ancestry isn’t the strangest twist in racial history. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover — the man who plagued the black liberation movement from Marcus Garvey to the Black Panther Party — was known by his peers as a passing black man.

His childhood neighbor, writer Gore Vidal famously quoted, “It was always said in my family and around the city that Hoover was mulatto.  And that he came from a family that passed.”

And apparently that was a closely-guarded secret. Millie McGhee, author of Secrets Uncovered: J. Edgar Hoover Passing For White, said,

“In the late 1950’s, I was a young girl growing up in rural McComb, Mississippi. A story had been passed down through several generations that the land we lived on was owned by the Hoover family. My grandfather told me that this powerful man, Edgar, was his second cousin, and was passing for white. If we talked about this, he was so powerful he could have us all killed. I grew up terrified about all this.”

The Medici Family 
It’s hard to get through any school lesson about the Italian Renaissance without talking about the Medici family. What history doesn’t like to talk about is that the financial ruler of the western world — Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Penne and Duke of Florence and commonly called “Il Moro” (Italian for Moor — a term commonly used to describe anyone with dark skin) — was born to an African-Italian mother (a servant) and a white father (who would later become Pope Clement VII).

 

It was not until the 19th and early 20th centuries that discussion of Alessandro’s “race” came into its own—and then not in a good way. Scientific racism provided the intellectual backdrop against which historians of the Medici judged Alessandro’s rule. But Alessandro also attracted the attention of scholars seeking to challenge racism. In 1931, in the United States, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, co-founder of the Negro Society for Historical Research and creator of one of the most important collections of sources for African history, wrote an article about him for The Crisis, the magazine of the US-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Still, while the story may have been known in the USA, it was far from visible to me as a traveller to Florence, which I had visited three times before I heard it. When I did, I found it not in the city’s galleries, but in an academic book chapter in the University of London library. In the museums of Florence itself there was scanty evidence even for Alessandro’s existence. A few years ago, when I visited the Uffizi Gallery, his portrait was not on display. To prove to friends that he was real, I was reduced to apologetic leafing through old exhibition catalogues in the gallery bookshop. A friend who had spent a decade studying sociology at the University of Florence knew nothing of the tales of Alessandro’s ethnicity. Nor did my Florentine landlady, who had lived in the city for years. She smelt a conspiracy. In the past ten years or so, there has been greater acknowledgement—both in academic literature and in the art world—of the likelihood that Alessandro was mixed-race. Yet he is still very far from a well-known historical figure.

For a very long time, the city of Florence has been mythologized as the symbolic heart of European culture, the cradle of western civilization. It abounds with the images and stories of great men: Dante, Botticelli, Lorenzo de’ Medici, Michelangelo, Galileo. The Renaissance was the first period—so the traditional history went—in which we could truly speak of the great individual, of the “Renaissance man.” Alessandro’s story reminds us that Renaissance men may not always have been white. Alongside the art and poetry, the scheming, intriguing, bloody side of Renaissance politics is well known too. As Orson Welles famously riffed, “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance.” To terror, murder, and bloodshed, Alessandro’s story adds slavery and the seeds of racism.

 Clark Gable Image result for clark gable

Gable did not try to hide his black and Native-American heritage, although it wasn’t widely publicized either. When his Gone with the Wind costar Hattie was not permitted to attend the premiere in Atlanta, Georgia, he threatened to boycott it. When he saw “colored” and “white” bathrooms on the set, he refused to continue working until all of the cast were treated equally.

 Jackie Kennedy 

If you thought Michelle Obama was the first black first lady, surprise! Jackie Onassis’ ancestor John van Salee De Grasse was the first black American formally educated as a doctor. Her father was nicknamed “Black Jack” Bouvier because of his dark complexion.

 Alexander Hamilton 

was the first secretary of the treasury whose face adorns the U.S. 10-dollar bill. Alexander Hamilton’s mother, Rachel Fawcett Lavain, was said to be of “mixed blood.” Alexander’s older brother was dark-skinned and treated as black. Even though his mother was half-black, both she and Alexander were light skinned enough to pass as white.

For black history buffs, it’s really all about the Hamiltons. Alexander Hamilton isn’t just the man on the $10 bill, he was the United States’ first Secretary of the Treasury. His mother, Rachel Fawcett Lavain, was said to be of “mixed blood” and his father was the son of a Scottish Duke. Alexander’s older brother was dark-skinned and treated as black. But Alexander was light enough to pass and went on to establish the first national bank in the American colonies, founded the U.S. mint and wrote most of the Federalist Papers. Hamilton was born as the illegitimate son of Rachel Fawcett Lavien on a Carribean island the size of the town of Kirkland called Nevis. His mother was divorced for infidelity long before Hamilton was born, casting question onto Hamilton’s father. Some claim that it was James Hamilton, the man who lived with Rachel. Others claim it was Nicolas Cruger, a Carribean merchant with connections in New York who employed an eleven year old Alexander Hamilton after his alleged father left him and his mother died. Some claim that Hamilton’s mother had affairs with her slaves. Additionally, many claim that Hamilton’s mother was herself part black, newspapers record Hamilton being called a mustee (implying his mother was a quarter black) by political enemies.

 

 Ludwig Van Beethoven 
Even though paintings of the composer depict him as very Caucasian, his death mask highlights his African features

 

The famous classical composer’s mother was a moor. It’s a fact that became popular again after this cast of his African facial features contradicted the “idealized” paintings of the man history likes to re-imagine.
The question was brought to modern science, but recent DNA evidence was inconclusive. For more information, please refer to the related link from the Washington Post.  The research team also said that future DNA analysis might answer lingering questions about Beethoven’s ethnicity. As a young man, the dark-complexioned Beethoven sometimes was called “the Moor,” and some historians have questioned whether he had African blood. Walsh said his analysis of the hair strands showed “no wrinkles or bends” typical among people of African descent, but that more tests may be conducted.

Saint Nicholas 

the real story of Santa Claus begins with Saint Nicholas who lived from 270 to 343 A.D.,a village of Patara is the saint upon whom the legend of Santa Claus is based. St. Nicholas lived in what was once Greek, is now Turkey, which was at that time a hub for people of African descent. Ancient pictures of St. Nicholas depict him as a dark-skinned man with African features, in contrast to his modern whitewashing as the rosy-cheeked Santa Claus. He was born to wealthy parents, who died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Nicholas used his entire inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.

 Queen Charlotte of Great Britain Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

was descended from Madragana, a Moor (a north African), and Portugal’s King Alfonso III. She was queen when America declared independence from Britain. Charlotte’s parentage makes Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William technically mixed race.  This 18th century painter got into hot water when he painted Queen Charlotte’s features a little too realistically. The painting stirred up long-standing rumors about King George III’s wife’s African heritage. And those rumors turned out to be true. Queen Charlotte was the member of a Portuguese royal family begun by Alfonso III and his lover Madragana “a moor“. Because this makes Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William technically mixed race, many historians have tried to cast doubt on the nature of Queen Charlotte’s heritage. But her personal physician has noted her “true mulatto face” and the public report released before Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 acknowledges the monarchy’s African heritage. It is a great “what if” of history. “If she was black,” says the historian Kate Williams, “this raises a lot of important suggestions about not only our royal family but those of most of Europe, considering that Queen Victoria’s descendants are spread across most of the royal families of Europe and beyond. If we class Charlotte as black, then ergo Queen Victoria and our entire royal family, [down] to Prince Harry, are also black … a very interesting concept.

 

 Alexander Pushkin Alexander Pushkin by Orest Kiprensky

The man considered the father of Russian literature was he great-grandson of an Ethiopian prince. Among Pushkin’s more famous unpublished works (left after his death in a duel) is an unfinished novel about his Ethiopian great-grandfather. Ossip Abramovich Gannibal’s father, Pushkin’s great-grandfather, was Abram Petrovich Gannibal (1696–1781), a Black African page kidnapped and brought to Russia as a gift for Peter the Great.

Bettmann/Getty Images    Fredi WashingtonFredi Washington in "Imitation of Life"
With her fair skin, green eyes, and flowing hair, actress Fredi Washington possessed all the traits needed to pass for white. In 1934’s “Imitation of Life,” Washington plays a light-skinned black woman who denies her black mother to cross the color line, posing as white.
In real life, Washington refused to deny her heritage, advocating for blacks in entertainment. Married for a time to black trombonist Lawrence Brown, the only time Washington reportedly passed for white is to buy snacks from the establishments that refused to serve her husband and his bandmates because of their skin color.

See the source image
Carol Channing 

 Enduring comic legend Carol Channing didn’t reveal to the world that her father was black until 2002, when she was over 80 years old.

 

 Anatole Broyard   

Famous New York Times book reviewer Anatole Broyard was born to light-skinned black parents in New Orleans and passed himself off as white once he grew up and moved out of his predominantly black Brooklyn neighborhood. The truth wasn’t revealed until his daughter Bliss wrote the book One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life — A Story of Race and Family Secrets.

American writer Anatole Broyard passed as white his entire life. It wasn’t until his daughter, Bliss, published One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life — A Story of Race and Family Secrets was the truth revealed: The famous New York Times book reviewer was born to light-skinned black parents in New Orleans and started passing once he grew up and moved out of his predominantly black Brooklyn neighborhood.

Juan de Pareja      
A Spanish painter, Juan de Pareja was described as a “Morisco,” which means “of mixed parentage and strange color.” He was born into slavery, the son of an enslaved mixed-race woman and Spanish father. Pajera is known primarily as a member of the household and workshop of painter Diego Velazquez, who freed him in 1650.

 

SAINT AUGUSTINE Augustine

 

No course covering Philosophy 101 is complete without referencing Christian theologian Saint Augustine.

What’s less commonly covered is his African origins and birth place of (modern-day) Souk Ahras, Algeria. He was the eldest son of Saint Monica of Saint Augustine. Aurelius Augustinus (his birth name) was born in Africa, educated in Rome, and a Milanese by baptism. He spent his early years in what is now know as Souk-Ahras, Algeria. Often called Augustine of Hippo, “The knowledgeable one,” by the Roman Catholic Church, he was considered by Evangelical Protestants to be (together with the Apostle Paul and the Bible) the theological fountainhead of the Reformation teaching on salvation and grace.

the fact that Augustine has African origins and was born in what is now Algeria. Later medieval depictions made him look Caucasian.

 

King Tutankhamen Image result for king tut was black

The boy pharaoh King Tutankhamen is sometimes described as fair skinned, but artifacts found at his tomb identify him as a black African.

The Boy Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt is often depicted as fair skinned. But these images recovered from his tomb (in addition to several other artifacts) have identified him as a black African. The panelists believe the Egyptians of Tut’s time had, for the most part, very dark skin, like people from sub-Saharan Africa. Charles Finch is the director of International Health at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. “Whenever ancient writers, Hebrew or Greek, make any reference to ancient Egyptians’ color, it’s always black,” Finch said. “There was no issue back then. There was no discussion. There was no debate. It only became a debate in the last 200 years.”

 

 Joseph Boulogne Image result for joseph boulogne

also known as Le Chevalier de Saint-George or the “Black Mozart.” He was the son of an enslaved African woman and a father who was a wealthy planter. Boulogne climbed the ladder of French society because of his mastery of European music and sword-fighting.

 

  Alexandre Dumas  Alexandre Dumas

A French writer ,the author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. He was born to a white father, a general and rival of Napoleon Bonaparte, and an enslaved mother.

Alexandre Dumas was the son of the General Dumas born in 1762 to a white father and an enslaved mother. General Dumas was such a good general that he made his rival — Napoleon Bonaparte — nervous. Thanks to Napoleon’s machinations, the General ended up imprisoned in a dungeon for years — the story that inspired Alexandre to write The Count of Monte Cristo about his father.

 King Piye 

A Nubian King  invaded Egypt around 730 B.C. and united the nation for over seven decades under his rule and then his son’s. Nubia would become modern-day Sudan. For years bigoted archaeologists suppressed the fact that a black man conquered the fair-skinned Egyptians.

Hannibal of Carthage

— one of the greatest military strategists in history is often depicted with much… narrower features. But these coins depicting Hannibal and his famous army of elephants leave little doubt in the minds of many historians of his African ancestry. Here, the focus is the Mediterranean world in antiquity — things were different then. Hannibal came from an area we refer to as northern Africa, from a Carthaginian family. The Carthaginians were Phoenicians, which means that we would conventionally describe them as a Semitic people. The term Semitic refers to a variety of people from the ancient Near East (e.g., Assyrians, Arabs, and Hebrews), which included parts of northern Africa. [See Semitic Languages in Their Original Homelands Map.] The world view was very different.

 Juan Latino, born Juan de Sessa, Image result for juan latino

 

was a notable Spanish black scholar at the University of Granada in 16th-century Spain. He was the son of black slaves of the duke consort of Sessa and was educated with his master’s son. Latino was eventually freed, easily assimilated into Spanish society due to his education, and enjoyed an interracial marriage.

George Bridgetower  See the source image

George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower was an Afro-Polish virtuoso violinist who lived in England for the majority of his life, which enabled him to easily navigate white high society. He was the son of Frederich Bridgetower, an African prince, and a Polish woman of German descent named Mary Ann.

 

Resources

trinilulz

madamenoire.com 

lithub.com

wiki

Martin Luther King Jr. -Jobs and Freedom


chaseNMLKOn August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr., delivered a speech to a massive group of civil rights marchers gathered around the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom brought together the nations most prominent civil rights leaders, along with tens of thousands of marchers, to press the United States government for equality. The culmination of this event was the influential and most memorable speech of Dr. King’s career. Popularly known as the “I have a Dream” speech, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. influenced the Federal government to take more direct actions to more fully realize racial equality.

Mister Maestro, Inc., and Twentieth Century Fox Records Company recorded the speech and offered the recording for sale. Dr. King and his attorneys claimed that the speech was copyrighted and the recording violated that copyright. The court found in favor of Dr. King. Among the papers filed in the case and available at the National Archives at New York City is a deposition given by Martin Luther King, Jr. and signed in his own hand.


Discussion Questions:

  • What was the official name for the event on August 28th, 1963? What does this title tell us about its focus?
  • What organizations were involved in the the March on Washington? What does this tell us about the event?
  • How does Martin Luther King, Jr. describe his writing process?
  • What are the major issues of this case? In other words, what is Martin Luther King, Jr. disputing?
  • How does Martin Luther King, Jr. describe his earlier speech on June 23rd in Detroit?
  • How does Martin Luther King, Jr. compare and contrast the two “I have a dream…” speeches? What are the major similarities and differences?

Barbecue – History of Barbecue


 

Image result for Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer of Pennsylvania patented a design for charcoal briquettes in 189 To barbecue means to slow-cook meat at a low temperature.

Zwoyer’s Design Patent #D27483 – charcoal briquette.

 

To barbecue means to slow-cook meat at a low temperature for a long time over wood or charcoal. In America, barbecue (or BBQ) originated in the late 1800’s during Western cattle drives. The cowboys were fed the less than perfect cuts of meat, often brisket, a tough and stringy piece of meat that required five to seven hours of cooking to tenderize. Other barbecue meats used were pork butt, pork ribs, beef ribs, venison and goat.

However, barbecue was not invented in America and no one knows who invented the barbecue. The word ‘Barbecue’ might come from the Taino Indian word ‘barbacoa’ meaning meat-smoking apparatus. ‘Barbecue’ could have also originated from the French word “Barbe a queue” which means “whiskers-to-tail.”

No one is sure of the correct origins of the word.

Who Invented the Charcoal Briquette?

Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer of Pennsylvania patented a design for charcoal briquettes in 1897. (See the image to the right) After World War One, the Zwoyer Fuel Company built charcoal briquette manufacturing plants in the United States with plants in Buffalo, NY and Fall River, MA.

There are stories circulating that Henry Ford invented the very first briquette in 1920 with the help of Thomas Edison. However, the 1897 patent obviously predates this and Ford and Edison both knew Zwoyer.

Ford is the man who popularized the gas-powered car in America and invented the assembly line for automobile manufacturing. Ford created a briquette from the wood scraps and sawdust from his car factory.

E.G. Kingsford bought Ford’s briquette and placed it into commercial production.

August … a month full of historic events


270px-Hurricane_Katrina_Mobile_Alabama_flooded_parking_lot_20050829just another rant …

August ~~we remember Katrina … remind folks what happened on the Gulf Coast as the people fled, some were forced out or died in the Katrina disaster trying to get out. While others faced excessive force violence and death

August 1, 1838 – Slavery was abolished in Jamaica. It had been introduced by Spanish settlers 300 years earlier in 1509.

August 2, 1776 – In Philadelphia, most of the 55-56 members of the Continental Congress signed the parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence.

August 4, 1962 – Apartheid opponent Nelson Mandela was arrested by security police in South Africa. He was then tried and sentenced to five years in prison. In 1964, he was placed on trial for sabotage, high treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government and was sentenced to life in prison. A worldwide campaign to free him began in the 1980s and resulted in his release on February 11, 1990, at age 71 after 27 years in prison. In 1993, Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize with South Africa’s President F.W. de Klerk for their peaceful efforts to bring a nonracial democracy to South Africa. In April 1994, black South Africans voted for the first time in an election that brought Mandela the presidency of South Africa.

August 4, 1964 – Three young civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were found murdered and buried in an earthen dam outside Philadelphia, Mississippi. They had disappeared on June 21 after being detained by Neshoba County police on charges of speeding. They were participating in the Mississippi Summer Project organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to increase black voter registration. When their car was found burned on June 23, President Lyndon Johnson ordered the FBI to search for the men.

August 5, 1861 – President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the first Federal income tax, a 3 percent tax on incomes over $800, as an emergency wartime measure during the Civil War. However, the tax was never actually put into effect.

August 6, 1965 – The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Act suspended literacy, knowledge and character tests designed to keep African Americans from voting in the South. It also authorized the appointment of Federal voting examiners and barred discriminatory poll taxes. The Act was renewed by Congress in 1975, 1984 and 1991.

August 6-10, 1787 – The Great Debate occurred during the Constitutional Convention. Outcomes included the establishment of a four-year term of office for the President, granting Congress the right to regulate foreign trade and interstate commerce, and the appointment of a committee to prepare a final draft of the Constitution.

August 10, 1863 – The President meets with abolitionist Frederick Douglass who pushes for full equality for Union ‘Negro troops.’

August 9, 1974 – Effective at noon, Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency as a result of the Watergate scandal. Nixon had appeared on television the night before and announced his decision to the American people. Facing possible impeachment by Congress, he became the only U.S. President ever to resign.

August 11, 1841Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave, spoke before an audience in the North for the first time. During an anti-slavery convention on Nantucket Island, he gave a powerful, emotional account of his life as a slave. He was immediately asked to become a full-time lecturer for the Massachusetts Antislavery Society.

August 11-16, 1965 – Six days of riots began in the Watts area of Los Angeles, triggered by an incident between a white member of the California Highway Patrol and an African American motorist. Thirty-four deaths were reported and more than 3,000 people were arrested. Damage to property was listed at $40 million.

On August 14, 1862, Abraham Lincoln did something unprecedented in presidential history up to that point: he met with a small delegation of black leaders (all free: 5 black clergymen). But the meeting did not auger a decision to give African Americans a voice in government. In essence, Lincoln sought to lobby these men in essence to agree to a divorce. In other words, the President wanted to get black Americans behind his plan to colonize them abroad. -Source http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln5/1:812?rgn=div1;singlegenre=All;sort=occur;subview=detail;type=simple;view=fulltext;q1=August+14

August 14, 1935 – President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act establishing the system which guarantees pensions to those who retire at age 65. The Social Security system also aids states in providing financial aid to dependent children, the blind and others, as well as administering a system of unemployment insurance.

August 15, 1969 – Woodstock began in a field near Yasgur’s Farm at Bethel, New York. The three-day concert featured 24 rock bands and drew a crowd of more than 300,000 young people. The event came to symbolize the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s.

August 18, 1920 – The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote.

August 28, 1963 – The March on Washington occurred as over 250,000 persons attended a Civil Rights rally in Washington, D.C., at which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his now-famous I Have a Dream speech.

    August 28, 1955 The death of Emmett Till

 August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina slams into Gulf Coast

August 30 1967 Thurgood Marshall confirmed as Supreme Court justice

1983 U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Guion S. Bluford becomes the first African American to travel into space when the space shuttle Challenger

August 31

Resource: http://www.historyplace.com

~Nativegrl77

JUNETEENTH is coming – make your plans !!!


© JUNETEENTH.com

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. 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.

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. 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 For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

General Order Number 3

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.

Juneteenth Festivities and Food

A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball are just a few of the typical Juneteenth activities you may witness 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.

Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors – the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations.

Food was abundant because everyone prepared a special dish. Meats such as lamb, pork and beef which not available everyday were brought on this special occasion. A true Juneteenth celebrations left visitors well satisfied and with enough conversation to last until the next.

Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition’s roots. During slavery there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former ‘masters’.

Juneteenth and Society

In the early years, little interest existed outside the African American community in participation in the celebrations. In some cases, there was outwardly exhibited resistance by barring the use of public property for the festivities. Most of the festivities found themselves out in rural areas around rivers and creeks that could provide for additional activities such as fishing, horseback riding and barbecues. Often the church grounds was the site for such activities. Eventually, as African Americans became land owners, land was donated and dedicated for these festivities. One of the earliest documented land purchases in the name of Juneteenth was organized by Rev. Jack Yates. This fund-raising effort yielded $1000 and the purchase of Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. In Mexia, the local Juneteenth organization purchased Booker T. Washington Park, which had become the Juneteenth celebration site in 1898. There are accounts of Juneteenth activities being interrupted and halted by white landowners demanding that their laborers return to work. However, it seems most allowed their workers the day off and some even made donations of food and money. For decades these annual celebrations flourished, growing continuously with each passing year. In Booker T. Washington Park, as many as 20,000 African Americans once flowed through during the course of a week, making the celebration one of the state’s largest.

Juneteenth Celebrations Decline

Economic and cultural forces provided for a decline in Juneteenth activities and participants beginning in the early 1900’s. Classroom and textbook education in lieu of traditional home and family-taught practices stifled the interest of the youth due to less emphasis and detail on the activities of former slaves. Classroom text books proclaimed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 as the date signaling the ending of slavery – and little or nothing on the impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19th.

The Depression forced many people off the farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, employers were less eager to grant leaves to celebrate this date. Thus, unless June 19th fell on a weekend or holiday, there were very few participants available. July 4th was the already established Independence holiday and a rise in patriotism steered more toward this celebration.

Resurgence

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, whom 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. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity. In fact, two of the largest Juneteenth celebrations founded after this March are now held in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Texas Blazes the Trail

On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America.

Juneteenth In Modern Times

Today, Juneteenth is enjoying a phenomenal growth rate within communities and organizations throughout the country. Institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum and others have begun sponsoring Juneteenth-centered activities. In recent years, a number of local and national Juneteenth organizations have arisen to take their place along side older organizations – all with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.

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.

History of Juneteenth ©JUNETEENTH.com

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