Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States for the Other America. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that Union soldiers, many of whom were Native Black Americans led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. 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 many of which came from Camp William Penn which was in Cheltenham. Many of those soldiers were from Philadelphia’s 7th ward, South Philly to be exact. The confederates were surrendering all throughout the South. On Juneteenth 1865 the last of those enslaved were physically free. Thus making them Freedmen- an emancipated slave.
Fast forward to the modern-day. The Honorable Ron Brown aka Mr Juneteenth aka the man, the myth, the legend. He is the person who introduced all of Philadelphia to Juneteenth more than 25 years ago. He is the same person who worked with Senator Ed Markey’s office to produce edits and suggestions to the Bill. He is the first person to teach me anything about Juneteenth and our role as a warrior class of people and what we did to save America in the Civil War. Not only that he shared the relevance of our Philadelphia ancestors who fought to emancipate themselves. He is the founder of the Pennsylvania Juneteenth Coalition and worked with the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation. The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation started the Juneteenth petition sometime in October of 2019. From October- June 2nd the petition had less than 10,000 signatures.
On June 3rd, 2020, Ron Brown shared the Petition with Millennial Juneteenth. MJ is a grassroots Juneteenth organization with partners and members in various states. When Ron passed the petition to the hands of MJ within 24 hours they gained 10k signatures. Over the next 15 days, the petition received over 330,000 signatures. Thanks to the Millennials. Our online organizing during a time when our country was at its lowest point. People living during a global pandemic, and a nationwide epidemic of gun violence, drug addiction, police violence, and poverty plaguing our communities in the Other America!
The Other America is a term coined by Dr. Martin Luther King. When we look at the people who pushed and “got it poppin” on social media where millennials and Gen Z people from the Other America. We Believe and recognize Juneteenth 1865 as our Independence Day and our emancipation day. The millennials also say Juneteenth 2020 we began the mental revolution. The mental revolution leads to true liberation. The four pillars for Black liberation are mental health awareness, civic engagement, and economic empowerment. We made it our goal to teach and serve our people to the best of our capabilities. We thank our elders Ron Brown in particular for laying the groundwork on what Juneteenth is and its cultural significance.
Millennial Juneteenth has held over 4 marches and rallies. We have fed over 10,000 families in areas that are poverty zones and food deserts. We have had over 100 volunteers participate in various forms of service. We have hosted over 12 online seminars and web programs. We have partners in various states who are working to advance and advocate for the Native Black Americans. Needless to say, it’s a new day.
Juneteenth 1865 was the foundation, salvation, and liberation of our people in this nation. And we must continue to fight for freedom.
As the Other America celebrates Juneteenth let us remember just like the original Reparationist Callie House we must go get our 40 acres and a mule