By Ronda Watson Barber
Publisher of OhioMBE
Juneteenth marks the celebration of the final acts of the emancipation of enslaved Africans. On June 19, 1865, the announcement was made that those enslaved in Texas were free. The announcement can two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. The proclamation was ignored by the Confederate States until the Civil War was over.
How are you celebrating freedom? Today, I spent some time reflecting on the horrors and struggles our ancestors experienced in America. I am thankful for their many sacrifices. I thought about my grandfathers who went to war for America, came home and were regulated to minimal work opportunities to support their families and racism. As I think about it, my “greats” are hopefully smiling with glee. Imagine, me a Black woman in America, almost free-ish. I am educated. I can read and write. I own a business. I own a newspaper where I am able to express my opinion without the penalties.
Collectively as we celebrate Juneteenth, we need to plan for our futures. What will we leave the next generation? We have to demand freedom, justice, and equity. We have to vote and become politically active. Our votes have power. We have to buy black regularly! Our dollars have power.
We are experiencing a revolution. A rainbow of folks are marching in the streets. They are marching to end systemic racism. They are demanding justice. They are demanding that the United States government respects our dignity and rights as humans. They are marching for economic opportunities.
Rev. Al Sharpton said it best as he eulogized George Floyd, “We could run corporations and not hustle in the street, but you had your knee on our neck. We had creative skills, we could do whatever anybody else could do, but we couldn’t get your knee off our neck. What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country, in education, in health services, and in every area of American life, it’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say get your knee off our necks… The reason why we are marching all over the world is we were like George, we couldn’t breathe, not because there was something wrong with our lungs, but that you wouldn’t take your knee off our neck. We don’t want no favors, just get up off of us and we can be and do whatever we can be.
Just my thoughts. rwb
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