Black American Independence Day ( Juneteenth)!
Traditionally, in the United States of America our nation celebrates Independence Day on July 4th. This day commemorates the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. On July 8, 1776, the first public readings of the Declaration were held in Philadelphia's Independence Square to the ringing of bells and band music. Approximately one year later, on July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells, and fireworks. John Adams wanted fireworks to be apart of the annual celebration.
However, Independence Day in America is bittersweet for Black Americans. I am referring to the men, women, and children that can trace their family ancestry back to the plantation in the southern states and a few northern states. In 1776 slavery in America was still the driving force behind the nation's economy. The free labor that Black Americans provided the United States made this country become a superpower on the world stage. When I was a kid I remember hearing my family members say that the Fourth of July was a just a day off for Black people. By the time I became a teenager I understood this. How can one group of people leave England seeking "freedom" but owned, subjugated, abused, etc. enslaved Africans that became Black Americans. I learned about "Juneteenth" when I went to college and I am glad that I did become exposed to this.
What is Juneteenth? President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 that enslaved Black Americans would freed and allowed to leave the plantations. Although many Black Americans were not aware of the proclamation until two years later, on June 19, 1865. Federal troops arrived in Texas to ensure that those who were still enslaved would and should be freed.
Toni's Thoughts: I have celebrated "Juneteenth" since I learned about in college. I consider it to my Independence Day because my ancestors were still in bondage on those southern plantations. This is a Black American celebration and tradition. As I stated earlier this day is unique to Black Americans this is exclusively our day. I say this not to disparage Black people in America that come from African, Caribbean, and European countries but the distinction is clear based on both the historical and cultural context. However, if non Black Americans want to celebrate this day you are entitled to do so. Just be sure to show respect and give credit to the proper people. I have seen some disrespectful remarks made on social media. So I believe I had to make this statement. The video above features the iconic and late Diahann Carroll hosting an episode of The Hollywood Palace featuring the Alvin Ailey Dancers performing "Rocka My Soul" from one of their signature pieces known as "Revelations." The second part of the performance features "Sinner Man." I believe "Rocka My Soul" fits the theme of Juneteenth because the costumes worn in the performance resemble what Black people wore during the 1800s and 1900s.
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