July 24, 2021

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Activists on Juneteenth holiday: ‘It’s hard for me to celebrate’ – KCRA Sacramento

4 min read

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring June 19, 2021, as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day: A Day of Observance” in the state of California. It comes a day after President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday.While many are marking the day with celebrations, activists are concerned about legislation for a new holiday that marks the end of slavery — that doesn’t come with reparations for descendants of slaves.History of JuneteenthTo completely understand the significance of Juneteenth and the calls for more change, one must explore history. On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.But it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned through Union soldiers they were free, hence the celebration of June 19 — or Juneteenth. Slavery was formally abolished when the 13th Amendment was ratified on Dec. 6, 1865.On Thursday, President Biden signed legislation, making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Reparations for slaveryAfter the Civil War, a Union general signed an order saying each Black family should get 40 acres of land. Some families were to get mules left over from the war, hence the decree that African Americans are owed 40 acres and a mule. But it never happened.Now there are renewed calls for reparations, or the act of making amends for a wrong one has done.What California is doing Just two weeks ago, the first-in-the-nation California task force to study reparations for African Americans met for the first time.Their goal is to explore ways the state can provide reparations. What activists are sayingActivists like Berry Accius say the move to create a federal holiday draws mixed emotion.”I believe that the expectation is for all Black Americans to be excited, but at the same time, when I think about my ancestors, when we think about chattel slavery and the enslavement of my people, how they were duped in many ways by not really getting the true freedom said they thought,” he said.”We talk about the new ideas and forms of slavery like sharecropping, convict leasing, black codes, redlining, Jim Crow laws. When I think about that, it’s hard for me to celebrate,” he continued.He believes the new holiday is a symbolic gesture of progress for African Americans, at a time when injustice continues. “It’s kind of frustrating to me that everything that protects Black people, whether it’s the George Floyd Law, whether it’s the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Bill, we talk about all these different things that could support us when we talk about protection from police, protection from hate crimes it’s falling on deaf ears,” he said. Accius added that reparations can come in many forms like land, free education and tax breaks. All of those are things that can help close the African American wealth gap stemming from a time when men and women couldn’t make their own way because they weren’t free to do so.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring June 19, 2021, as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day: A Day of Observance” in the state of California.

It comes a day after President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

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While many are marking the day with celebrations, activists are concerned about legislation for a new holiday that marks the end of slavery — that doesn’t come with reparations for descendants of slaves.

History of Juneteenth

To completely understand the significance of Juneteenth and the calls for more change, one must explore history.

On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

But it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned through Union soldiers they were free, hence the celebration of June 19 — or Juneteenth.

Slavery was formally abolished when the 13th Amendment was ratified on Dec. 6, 1865.

On Thursday, President Biden signed legislation, making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Reparations for slavery

After the Civil War, a Union general signed an order saying each Black family should get 40 acres of land.

Some families were to get mules left over from the war, hence the decree that African Americans are owed 40 acres and a mule.

But it never happened.

Now there are renewed calls for reparations, or the act of making amends for a wrong one has done.

What California is doing

Just two weeks ago, the first-in-the-nation California task force to study reparations for African Americans met for the first time.

Their goal is to explore ways the state can provide reparations.

What activists are saying

Activists like Berry Accius say the move to create a federal holiday draws mixed emotion.

“I believe that the expectation is for all Black Americans to be excited, but at the same time, when I think about my ancestors, when we think about chattel slavery and the enslavement of my people, how they were duped in many ways by not really getting the true freedom said they thought,” he said.

“We talk about the new ideas and forms of slavery like sharecropping, convict leasing, black codes, redlining, Jim Crow laws. When I think about that, it’s hard for me to celebrate,” he continued.

He believes the new holiday is a symbolic gesture of progress for African Americans, at a time when injustice continues.

“It’s kind of frustrating to me that everything that protects Black people, whether it’s the George Floyd Law, whether it’s the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Bill, we talk about all these different things that could support us when we talk about protection from police, protection from hate crimes it’s falling on deaf ears,” he said.

Accius added that reparations can come in many forms like land, free education and tax breaks. All of those are things that can help close the African American wealth gap stemming from a time when men and women couldn’t make their own way because they weren’t free to do so.

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