MUHAMMAD: Hail Juneteenth — The End of American Slavery

Askia Muhammad | 6/12/2013, 3 p.m.
All hail Juneteenth, the holiday that was declared by slaves in America.
Askia Muhammad

All hail Juneteenth, the holiday that was declared by slaves in America.

Juneteenth is June 19, 1865, the day a column of Union troops arrived at Galveston, Texas and read the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in Texas two years and six months after it was proclaimed, and one year and two months after the conclusion of the Civil War which presumably decided the issue of slavery permanently.

What makes Juneteenth special is not that Gen. Gordon Granger and his troops declared the slaves to be free, or even that it was way late in coming to the slaves in Texas, but rather that without consultation with any authorities, without waiting to be told what to do, the slaves knew exactly what to do – desist from slaving!

The slaves in Texas did not get a chance to run away to safety behind Union lines, where they could then join the U.S. Colored Troops and fight for their freedom against the Confederate traitors who wanted to keep Black folks in bondage forever. The 200,000 and some-odd Blacks who fought for their freedom in the Civil War made the decisive victory for the Union side, thus preserving the United States.

The celebration was short lived however. Just 12 years later, the infamous Hayes-Tilden Compromise was negotiated in order to elect Rutherford B. Hayes president after the 1876 election was deadlocked, and a wholesale betrayal of Black people and their interests was engineered, returning the Johnnie Rebs back to power, and removing federal troops which had protected Black people from the lynch-mob’s rope.

Jim Crow segregation became the law of the land in the slave states, Blacks were virtually powerless to resist, and the White folks in the rest of the country looked the other way as the Ku Klux Klan was born, and what eventually became 100 years of lynching was the new order of the day.

In the middle of the 20th century the Civil Rights Movement was born, and Blacks again aggressively asserted their demands for freedom, justice and equality in the American society. Then somewhere near the dawn of the 21st century the Reparations movement was reborn, and that’s where we remain today.

Reparation is: “The act of making amends; atonement; indemnity. The act of repairing or the state of being repaired.” In the vernacular it means: “getting paid!” Slaves were abused and their free labor was exploited for 400 years in this country, creating the basis of the wealth everyone in this society enjoys, and the descendants of those slaves deserve compensation for the free labor of their forbearers.

No people who’ve ever lived deserve reparation payments – making amends; atonement; indemnity – from their former tormentors more than do Blacks in the United States of America, and that is an indisputable fact, although many people would and do dispute the claim by Black people for reparations. Some of them think Black people should be grateful for having been brought to America from Africa and that maybe Black folks should be penalized for citizenship the way Latinos are being treated today.