The Meaning of Independence Day for Milwaukee’s People of Color

By: Reggie Jackson, milwaukeeindependent.com

 

Source:www.classzone.com

Two hundred and forty-one years ago, a select group of leaders in the British North American colonies decided to break ranks and form their own independent nation….

On July 4th the nation will celebrate this monumental occasion as the birthday of the United States of America.

One hundred fifty-two years ago on a hot summer day, word of the Emancipation Proclamation made it to Galveston, Texas. June 19th of 1865 was two and a half years after Lincoln’s broad proclamation freeing the enslaved population in America….

Source:www.askideas.com

Milwaukee celebrates what’s become known as Juneteenth Day in a big way. These two celebrations, a mere fifteen days apart, are in many ways a clear sign of the disconnect that continues to exist along racial lines. Some African-Americans look at Juneteenth as their Independence Day in the same way as the nation overall celebrates its independence on the 4th of July….

Obviously, many in the African-American community celebrate the 4th of July as a huge patriotic nod to the role they or their ancestors played in fighting for their country. Juneteenth Day is a lesser holiday within the African-American community than the 4th of July.

Over the years, many have questioned the patriotism of African-Americans. This despite the fact that we have fought on behalf of this nation in all of its wars going back to before the Revolutionary War….

However, July 4th of 1776 did not represent Independence Day for my relatives and many other people of African ancestry. In fact, it would take another eighty-seven years before Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing enslaved blacks. An additional two years would elapse before a Constitutional amendment ended legal slavery in December 1865.

So for nearly ninety years, we watched as whites celebrated their independence from the tyrannical King George and the British, while refusing to offer independence to millions of Africans who stood on these same shores. In 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a famous speech questioning what, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?

He saw the irony and hypocrisy of his white friends who celebrated the lifting of themselves from tyrannical rule, while continuing to not offer these same benefits to the blacks who lived within their midst….

These unalienable rights were denied to nearly 600,000 Africans at the time. When Lincoln issued his wartime proclamation, close to four million were in bondage. For them and their families, these words that we continue to celebrate were empty, hollow, and even disrespectful.

The audacity required to break with English rule was only outdone by that which declared liberty to some without even mentioning those it was denied to. For too long, we as Americans have refused to acknowledge this hypocrisy. We fly our flags and launch massive amounts of fireworks on the nation’s birthday each year without once mentioning the fact that it did not apply to Africans in America in 1776….

http://worldartsme.com

It is as if we are afraid to tarnish the holiday….

Independence from tyranny came slowly for the enslaved masses of men, women, and children of African descent….

Most of us have read about the Emancipation Proclamation, but few have read the document itself….

Twelve years after the 13th Amendment ended slavery, the last of the Federal troops protecting the rights of the freedmen were removed from the South. They were the only force standing in the way of a return to legal bondage….

Racial tеrrоr became the order of the day for the freedmen. Across the country they were openly beaten, rаpеd, tоrturеd and murdеred for decades with no protection from authorities. Later, they were forced to occupy segregated spaces, in homes, public places, and while traveling until the 1960s. This time left no reason to celebrate independence from tyranny.

Since this is an ignored part of our history,… It is time we begin to talk publicly in Milwaukee about why we do not all have to be happy, flag waving “patriots” on the 4th of July.

 

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

See more about Fredrick Douglass here.

 

Did a Fear of Slave Revolts Drive American Independence?

By 

Binghamton, N.Y. — FOR more than two centuries, we have been reading the Declaration of Independence wrong. Or rather, we’ve been celebrating the Declaration as people in the 19th and 20th centuries have told us we should, but not the Declaration as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams wrote it. To them, separation from Britain was as much, if not more, about racial fear and exclusion as it was about inalienable rights.

The Declaration’s beautiful preamble distracts us from the heart of the document, the 27 accusations against King George III over which its authors wrangled and debated, trying to get the wording just right. The very last one — the ultimate deal-breaker — was the most important for them, and it is for us: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” In the context of the 18th century, “domestic insurrections” refers to rebellious slaves. “Merciless Indian savages” doesn’t need much explanation….

indian1Upon hearing the news that the Congress had just declared American independence, a group of people gathered in the tiny village of Huntington, N.Y., to observe the occasion by creating an effigy of King George. But before torching the tyrant, the Long Islanders did something odd, at least to us. According to a report in a New York City newspaper, first they blackened his face, and then, alongside his wooden crown, they stuck his head “full of feathers” like “savages,” wrapped his body in the Union Jack, lined it with gunpowder and then set it ablaze.

The 27th and final grievance was at the Declaration’s heart (and on Long Islanders’ minds) because in the 15 months between the Battles of Lexington and Concord and independence, reports about the role African-Americans and Indians would play in the coming conflict was the most widely discussed news. And British officials all over North America did seek the aid of slaves and Indians to quell the rebellion.

A few months before Jefferson wrote the Declaration, the Continental Congress received a letter from an army commander that contained a shocking revelation: Two British officials, Guy Carleton and Guy Johnson, had gathered a number of Indians and begged them to “feast on a Bostonian and drink his blood.” Seizing this as proof that the British were utterly despicable, Congress ordered this letter printed in newspapers from Massachusetts to Virginia….slave revolt in VA

Adams, Franklin and Jefferson were essential in broadcasting these accounts as loudly as they could. They highlighted any efforts of British agents like Dunmore, Carleton and Johnson to involve African-Americans and Indians in defeating the Revolution….It was a very rare week in 1775 and 1776 in which Americans would open their local paper without reading at least one article about British officials “whispering” to Indians or “tampering” with slave plantations.

john_singleton_copley_001So when the crowd in Huntington blackened the effigy’s face and stuffed its head with feathers before setting it on fire, they were indeed celebrating an independent America, but one defined by racial fear and exclusion. Their burning of the king and his enslaved and native supporters together signified the opposite of what we think of as America. The effigy represented a collection of enemies who were all excluded from the republic born on July 4, 1776.

This idea — that some people belong as proper Americans and others do not — has marked American history ever since…. All the African-Americans and Indians who supported the revolution — and lots did — were no match against the idea that they were all “merciless savages” and “domestic insurrectionists.” Like the people of Huntington, Americans since 1776 have operated time and time again on the assumption that blacks and Indians don’t belong in this republic. This notion comes from the very founders we revere this weekend. It haunts us still.

Read the full article here.

More Breaking News here.