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#BTColumn – Juneteenth Celebrations – Barbados Today



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by Wayne Campbell

“June was never a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It is a celebration of progress.

It is a claim that despite the most painful times in our history, change is possible and there is still so much work to be done. – Barack Obama.

We have all seen the resurgence of racial clashes in the United States of America. Sadly, some of us have fallen victim to this heightened racial tension between whites who believe they have a right to all things and minority groups who are engaged in a struggle for justice and equality.

Minority groups led primarily by African Americans have formed in various movements in this ongoing struggle for equal rights and justice across the United States of America.

The call for racial justice has intensified in recent times, as rights groups have protested for justice on behalf of the black men and women who have been shot dead by white police officers.

Professor Vincent Brown; The professor of American history and African and African American studies at Harvard University said the African war has been reconstructed as an outgrowth of the experiences of emigrants. He identified this as collective violence which amounts to a devaluation of black life.

Professor Brown postulates that the United States of America is an example where black lives are devalued. The professor added that the police are disproportionately violent against blacks and browns in these societies. The emergence of social media has allowed us to witness in real time the abuse that many people of color face on a daily basis from those hiding under the banner of white privilege and masculinity.

The Black Lives Movement
According to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) website, the BLM movement was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of the killer Trayvon Martin.

The BLM is a global organization in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and strengthen local power to intervene in the violence inflicted on black communities by the State and vigilantes.

By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for black imagination and innovation, and centering black joy, we gain immediate improvements in our lives. This Black Lives Matter movement took on an international dimension as thousands of people in almost every country took to the streets with banners such as I Can’t Breathe to highlight the injustices inflicted on black people.

The protests have turned into a nighttime activity as organizers are adamant that changes need to be made to dismantle the systemic and entrenched layers of racism that are seen in law enforcement, public housing, education, among others. other services provided by the state. Protests have also taken place in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Jamaica and Germany to name a few countries.

The movement gained momentum after the murder of 46-year-old African American George Floyd in May 2020, who was strangled by white cops in Minneapolis for nearly 9 minutes until he says his last words, “I can’t breathe. “

Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd in April 2021.

Subsequently, there was a worldwide attack on statues which are rooted in slavery and racism; many of these statues including those of King Leopold 2 of Belgium and Christopher Columbus have been removed from public spaces.

These statues are a painful reminder of the cruel treatment of a once enslaved people. The withdrawal is cathartic for many members of the black community. In addition, the Confederate flag will no longer be permitted at NASCAR meetings.

In a statement, NASCAR said they would ban Confederate flags from all events and properties in a substantial move for a sport steeped in Southern history and at times rife with racism.

It seems that a collective consciousness has taken root in a significant number of people.

Disturbingly, there is also a counterrevolution as white supremacist groups have mushroomed and are not afraid to come out publicly. The attack on the capital of the United States on January 6, 2021 was a blatant attack on democracy. It is in this context that this year’s June celebrations will be more meaningful to the African American community and to those who support inclusion and racial equality.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, a mixture of the words June and XIX, honors the end of slavery in the United States. The June 15 celebrations took on special significance. Juneteenth takes place on June 19 each year and commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

Specifically, it commemorates the day (June 19, 1865) when Union soldiers finally went to Galveston, Texas, to tell the slaves that the war was over and that they were now free. It does not commemorate Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which became official United States law on January 1, 1863, but was not fully enforced until the order was read to enslaved people until in Texas two and a half years later.

Many plantation owners held slaves captive long after the proclamation, or intentionally fled west to avoid approaching Union forces who would inform them of their free status. Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1866, with Texans commemorating the momentous occasion as a day of celebration and community. Since then, it has become a public holiday or official celebration in 46 states and Washington, DC, Forbes reported.

A number of large companies including Nike, Ford Motor, General Motors, Best Buy, JP Morgan, JC Penny, Google, MasterCard, Twitter, Uber have taken the initiative to grant their employees this paid leave.

Juneteenth has long been commemorated in the black community for many years, however, Juneteenth has gained prominence in recent years after racial justice movements increased interest in the holiday and more states and cities embraced. legislation commemorating emancipation.

Juneteenth should become a federal holiday.

President Joe Biden signed the law on June 17, 2021, making Juneteenth a federal holiday. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., if the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we currently face will surely fail.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator interested in development policies as they affect culture and / or gender issues. [email protected]

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