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Know Your History: What is Juneteenth?

With Juneteenth being next month, many still do not know what it is and why we celebrate within the African American community. Below is just a quick lesson for beginners on what Juneteenth is.

When did slavery end in the United States? The answer to that question isn’t as clear-cut as it seems. While most slaves received their freedom after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Texas had to wait more than two-and-a-half years later to receive their freedom. That’s when the Union Army arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, and ordered that slavery in the Lone Star State end.

Ever since, African Americans have celebrated that date as Juneteenth Independence Day. Juneteenth is an official state holiday in Texas. It’s also recognized by 40 states and the District of Columbia. Juneteenth advocates have worked for years worked for the federal government to institute a national day of recognition.

Abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth worked tirelessly to free blacks from bondage in the United States. And when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, it appeared that the peculiar institution known as slavery had met its end. For many African Americans, life remained the same, however. That’s because fierce racial discrimination prevented them from living autonomous lives.

More shockingly, some enslaved African Americans had no idea that President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which mandated that they be set free. In Texas, more than two-and-a-half years passed before slaves received their freedom. The holiday known as Juneteenth Independence Day honors these slaves as well as African-American heritage and the contributions blacks have made to the United States.

HISTORY OF JUNETEENTH

Juneteenth marks the date of June 19, 1865, when Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, to demand that the slaves there be set free. Texas was one of the last states where slavery endured. Although President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, African Americans remained in bondage in the Lone Star State. When Gen. Granger arrived in Texas, he read General Order No. 3 to Galveston residents:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.

This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages.”

Following Granger’s announcement, the formerly enslaved African Americans broke into celebration.

Today that celebration, said to be the oldest black American holiday, is known as Juneteenth. African Americans not only celebrated their freedom, they exercised their new rights by buying land across Texas, namely Emancipation Park in Houston, Booker T. Washington Park in Mexia and Emancipation Park in Austin.

PAST AND PRESENT JUNETEENTH CELEBRATIONS

The first massive Juneteenth celebrations kicked off the year after Gen. Granger appeared in Galveston. Historic Juneteenth celebrations included religious services, readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, inspirational speakers, stories from former slaves and games and contests, including rodeo events. Many African Americans celebrated Juneteenth in the same way that Americans generally celebrate the Fourth of July.

Today, Juneteenth celebrations feature similar activities. As of 2012, 40 states and the District of Columbia recognize the Juneteenth holiday. Since 1980, the state of Texas has observed Juneteenth as an official holiday known as Emancipation Day. Contemporary celebrations of Juneteenth in Texas and elsewhere include parades and street fairs, dancing, picnics and cookouts, family reunions and historical reenactments. Moreover, President Barack Obama pointed out in his 2009 proclamation of the holiday that Juneteenth “also serves as a time for reflection and appreciation, and an opportunity for many people to trace their family’s lineage.”

While African Americans widely celebrate Juneteenth today, the popularity of the holiday has waned during certain periods, such as World War II. Holiday celebrations of Juneteenth resurrected in 1950, but by the last years of that decade and in the 1960s, Juneteenth celebrations declined once more. Juneteenth became a popular holiday again in a variety of regions during the 1970s. In the early 21st century, Juneteenth is not only a well celebrated holiday, there’s a push to have the 19th of June become a National Day of Recognition for slavery.

CALL FOR NATIONAL DAY OF RECOGNITION

The Rev. Ronald V. Myers Sr., founder and chairman of the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign and the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, has asked President Barack Obama to “issue a presidential proclamation to establish Juneteenth Independence Day as a National Day of Observance in America, similar to Flag Day or Patriot Day.” As an elected official in Illinois, Barack Obama supported legislation for his state to recognize Juneteenth, but the president has yet to make a move that would make Juneteenth a National Day of Recognition.

Only time will tell if Juneteenth and the slavery of African Americans is ever acknowledged by the federal government in such an official capacity

PAL Center Hosts Community Forum to Strengthen Ties with Law Enforcement

On Friday, April 21, the PAL Center and PAL Charter Academy hosted the second “Live 2 Learn Community Forum”. The purpose of the forum was to proactively improve communications between the local community and law enforcement. 

Chief Joseph Paulino of the San Bernardino City Unified School District Police Department has spearheaded this event in response to the negative connotations associated with law enforcement in current media. The vision of the community forum is to increase positive awareness and engagement between law enforcement and community. In many cases, reluctantly, the crowd gathered unsure of what to expect and defensive due to personal bias. Officer Ryan Tillman of the Chino Hills Police Department put spectators at ease and began to shift perspective as he shared his own personal testimony prior to joining the department. The officers who shared at this event empathized with community concerns as they began to illustrate their daily responsibilities through conversation and role-play.

Allowing students to role play with fake weapons and real life scenarios was an eye-opening experience. Student participants shared the following thoughts:  “Police wouldn’t pick on you for no reason; there’s probable cause for everything they do and I saw that in action.” Alfredo Perez, PAL Sophomore.  

“I think there are good and bad officers but I’ve only experienced bad ones before today. This was educational and informative. I appreciate good officers taking the time to share their stories and experience with us,” Jeremiah Cook, PAL Junior, stated.

Many of the myths to law enforcement were addressed by officers who are engaged in the trenches of this work daily. The question was asked, “How important is it for kids to grow up and become police officers in their neighborhoods?” The response was simple and echoed by the entire panel of officers, “There is no better option than for an officer to return and serve in the neighborhood they knew as home.”

Mr. Radden, CEO of PAL Center and Academy, reminded the audience, “Community builds community, not police. The police are there to helps us maintain law and order in the communities we build. If we want change in our community we must have knowledge and understanding about the things we need to change. This event was a great platform for students and community to get firsthand knowledge from officers, to aid in our efforts to make change in our communities and lives.”

PAL Charter Academy is providing solutions for student success by supporting students through an individualized approach to learning. PAL is currently enrolling for 2017 summer and fall sessions as well as PCA Middle School, 6th – 8th grade scheduled to open fall 2017. For more information visit the website at www.palcharteracademy.com or call 909-887-7002. 

 

White House Correspondent, April Ryan Named 2017 NABJ Journalist of the Year

April Ryan

April Ryan

April Ryan has been selected as the 2017 Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). The annual award recognizes a black journalist who has a distinguished body of work that has extraordinary depth, scope and significance to people of the African Diaspora.

A 30-year journalism veteran, Ryan has a unique vantage point as the only black female reporter covering urban issues from the White House – a position she has held for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN) since January 1997. Her position as a White House correspondent for AURN has afforded her unusual insight into the racial sensitivities, issues and political struggles of our nation’s last three presidents.  

“April Ryan is a true trailblazer and truth seeker. She’s dogged and unapologetic about her pursuit of the story,” said NABJ President Sarah Glover. “In the White House press corps circle, where too few black women have been given an opportunity to report, April has excelled and persevered in spite of the many obstacles she has confronted. Her work has risen to the top.”

Trailblazer adequately describes Ryan, who received the 2016 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Trailblazer Award from the National Council of Negro Women, an honor she was ecstatic about receiving. She has served on the board of the prestigious White House Correspondent’s Association. She is one of only three African Americans in the association’s more than 100-year history to serve on its board. She is also a member of the National Press Club.

On behalf of American Urban Radio Networks’ 300 affiliates, and through her “Fabric of America” news blog, Ryan delivers her readership and listeners a “unique urban and minority perspective in news.”

A Baltimore native and Morgan State University graduate, Ryan gives back by serving as a mentor to aspiring journalists, and helps develop up-and-coming broadcasters. As much as she loves her job, which has expanded since recently joining CNN as a political analyst, Ryan is especially proud of what she calls her greatest life’s work – her two daughters, Ryan and Grace.

“It is wonderful to be honored by such an esteemed organization,” said Ryan. “I am humbled and honored. So many of these [NABJ] journalists do important work and I am so thankful they would think of me for this honor. It has been an amazing couple of months and you guys give me some wind to say ‘keep going.’

Ryan has made headlines while working her beat at the White House. She had public exchanges with President Donald J. Trump over the Congressional Black Caucus and with Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Her tense exchange with Spicer helped fuel the #BlackWomenAtWork hashtag.
 
While thankful for the honor, Ryan also took a minute to reflect on the industry and encourage black journalists to remain vigilant because “we add to the stories.”

“We all have a job to do and some of the stories we are doing wouldn’t be told if it weren’t for us,” Ryan elaborated. “We all need to keep pressing because the First Amendment is under attack.”  

Ryan is more than deserving of this award,” said NABJ Vice President-Broadcast Dorothy Tucker. “She has had a stellar career and we know that she will continue to cover the White House providing accurate, fair and exceptional reports, while asking the tough, probing questions that we know and respect her for.”

Ryan is the author of the award winning book, “The Presidency in Black and White,” garnered her an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author. Her latest book, “At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White,” published in December 2016, looks at race relations through the lessons and wisdom that mothers have given their children. A paperback version of “The Presidency in Black and White,” with updates about President Trump, will be published later this year.
 
Ryan will be recognized at the NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards at the NABJ Convention and Career Fair on Aug. 12, 2017 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel. NABJ Convention registration and Salute to Excellence Awards tickets are for sale here.

NABJ congratulates April Ryan on this well-deserved honor.