Gordon Granger discussed on Brian Lehrer


Were waiting to eighteen sixty five for a guard governor Gordon Granger sorry general Gordon Granger to come and tell them they're free they were fighting on a day to day basis at all times but they were just living under system of extreme oppression but it was difficult for them except for those that were fortunate enough to either be manumitted or for those that self liberated and found ways to become free I'm speaking with Dr dina rainy berry professor of history at the university of Texas Austin about the history of Juneteenth taking your calls and tweets about your own family's history either with tracing back to emancipation or with celebrating this holiday six four six four three five seven two eight zero that six four six four three five seven two eight zero eight one tweet I want a refund from I believe I'm pronouncing your name correctly indeed I apologize if I'm not says firstly to honor our ancestors who were kidnapped and enslaved still we still live the lives of dignity while building a new nation today and every day say right in slave formerly enslaved in flavor instead of slaves freed slave and slave master so another note on language which has you have been taking take note of that oh absolutely yes yes so from go head to head what I was gonna say the language is very important and something that a group of scholars of slavery get a crowdsourced document with doctor Gabrielle foreman who's going to be at the at ten state university and you can find that online it's a document and I'll I'll I'll put on the Twitter I'll put on the Twitter feed later but it's a document for museums historical societies journals to talk about inflate people as in state people it sounds funny but that I have to say people but almost like I often have to remind what I speak to that black people are human beings and we were we were we were people we are people and it sounds so simplistic and and almost insignificant to say but we were treated as objects we were borrowed and sold and traded like pieces of property and we were considered chattel property and so you have to remind folks that these are enslaved people they're human beings and the institution of slavery was something that happened to them it happened to them they were not objectified in the system where they just passively stood by and allowed themselves to be dismantled as a community you've you've mentioned a few times there are we've we've talked a couple times already about migration patterns is that how did how did the idea of Juneteenth and the celebration that began there in Texas begin to spread around the country as it is with it due to migration to tell us about that absolutely as I mentioned when we look at some of the early experiences of enslaved people formally say people as they left the sights of enslavement moved to parts of the north and the west in the Midwest and the northeast those Texas formally in Texas formerly enslaved people in Texas brought good spirits of Juneteenth with Juneteenth with them also you have so that's what that's what that's one way it's politically to other communities but then but I think there was a moment of turning point in the nineteen sixties of really large turning point the nineteen sixties where the poor people's campaign led by sterling Tukey strolling Tucker in Washington DC and Dr Whitney young with what's in the national urban league they held us celebrate Juneteenth solidarity day and this was at the site of the March on Washington this was a place where a few years before king and spoken right and there were about seventy five thousand people in attendance and at that moment correta Scott king spoke and song she sung the song come by here my lord come by here as he talked about the connection between the history of slavery and those struggle for race and poverty the struggle against racism poverty and war at that time I think at that moment seventy five thousand people learned about the significance of Juneteenth if they had known about it before and those people to get back to their communities as well that's quite striking and and then so in that period thinking about I mean you're talking about the poor people's campaign in the era of Jim crow and and in the fight against segregation help up until that point how was this holiday preserved in black communities in particular the south where where people were under such in many cases living under such violence absolutely that's that's one of the birth of striking factors of this holiday to me is that there's there's great joy in is also great pain and to me joint pain are one of the under bellies of African American history you know you see at the sea games you see dignity then you see you see moments of African Americans experiencing great tragedies like some of the things we're facing today some of the experiences we are dealing with right now in many cities particularly in and even small communities in large cities small communities they purchased apple only inflate people purchase parks like in Houston in eighteen seventy two a reference jacket gates in two other congregations purchased some land in Houston and they labeled at emancipation park there's emancipation park in Austin Texas where I currently live and Juneteenth celebrations occurred every single year and those parks now during segregation when there were restrictions on where at but public parks African Americans could be in the celebrations were often taken to people's homes or in their churches so during the early periods of the twenties and thirties when segregation and lynching and lives lost to rule our land African Americans still celebrated they still share this history this experience but they didn't spaces where they can maintain their safety and it becomes much more public and I'm hoping that as you mentioned at the outset of the show that it becomes a national holiday well on that note I should point out that one of my previous points out that the mayor mayor de Blasio here in New York is tweeted that that these quote proud to announce the beginning that beginning next year Juneteenth will be an official city and school holiday I'm not sure if that's a new R. but but there are several states that are starting to and I know I'm getting converted it is in fact knew that is that that is again that's amazing that is great news that's something to celebrate today so there we go there we go we can add that to the celebration I know several other companies are talking about this about you know about taking the day off to celebrate I think Twitter Nike NFL it's it's difficult history with the black lives matter that there is a federal bill in the works there is a New York state there's a bill in the works all of this is what do you think is this going to be is this a turning moment ours are these would it as a historian looking at the sweep of it how how much of a turning moment is this for this holiday in particular I think it is a turning point but I also want to be I'm I'm definitely optimistic I'm an optimist so for me it's a turning point and I think it's a good turning point but I don't want this to fall on deaf ears I don't want after a week after we move forward and people are buried in the protests you know I'm hoping the protests will continue given everything we're dealing with but after that things went down I I hope that we still have conversations I hope that we still have celebrations I hope that maybe New York will have a large parade sometime and they'll have speeches and people like Steve will tell their stories about their family their ancestry and the ancestors I'm hoping that this is not just our response to the current climate but that this is a movement of change change to see different textbooks changed to see the ways in which we teach history changed to see to make sure that this is inclusive way of understanding our American passed both the pain and the pleasures of our experience here let's hear from Erika in Brooklyn Erica welcome to WNYC hi there thank you for doing what you're doing it's really important information to share with the world the silent history so I already know that I am a descendant of Nicodemus Kansas and it's an all black settlement which still exists northwest campus famished in eighteen seventy seven and my descendants left Missouri cross the river into territory and what is said to be Springer is also this idea of we have to also remember I'm I'm a biracial woman that this nation was built upon land that was also right click on take that was taken source and that the indigenous or helpful the box at one point indigenous inflate blacks whites and blacks this idea of movement towards this whole nation not to forget where we came from help create this nation as well as the idea of the land is land ever truly owned so the idea of all of it for heating and all of us aware that we are part of a nation that was built on the backs of others and are others needing us as black people but this idea.

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