Celebrating Juneteenth

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Celebrating Juneteenth
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A group of black leaders in front of a Santa Barbara home in 1926 (Photo: Santa Barbara Public Library / UCSB Department of Special Collections)

By edhat staff

Today, Santa Barbara honors our local Black community and Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the liberation of those who had been held as slaves in the United States.

The organizers of Juneteenth SB moved their annual event to an online format bringing community members together to celebrate the freedom of enslaved African Americans.

The "Digital Diaspora: A Santa Barbara Celebration of Black Histories and Futures" features a series of online videos that showcase black joy and culture while honoring local black artists, performers, and organizations.

Dr. David Moore, pastor at New Covenant Worship Center in Santa Barbara, shared his thoughts on this powerful time in history. 

"For me Black joy is after all of this weariness and fatigue, seeing people rise up with a thirst for reality which means a thirst for justice," said Dr. Moore.

Leticia Forney shared about her direct ancestor Jerry Forney, who was the first documented Black resident of Sana Barbara in 1881 and decided to bring 500 other slaves to start a community.

"Joining Juneteenth is an opportunity for me to grow, to learn, and to celebrate what is our history and what is our present," said Leticia.

Santa Barbara's former Poet Laureate, Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, wrote a poem titled "Free At Last: A Juneteenth Poem" that was read over a montage of historical video footage.

History of Juneteenth

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, but it was formally issued on January 1, 1863, declaring that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were freed.

During the war, slaveholders had migrated into Texas to escape fighting, bringing thousands of enslaved people with them. More than 1,000 resided in both Galveston and Houston by 1860, although most lived in more rural areas. By 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas.

On June 18, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2,000 federal troops. The next day he read aloud the contents of "General Order No. 3", announcing the total emancipation of those held as slaves:

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. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Formerly enslaved people in Galveston celebrated and the following year they organized the first of what became the annual celebration of "Jubilee Day" on June 19. 

In most cities, black people were unable to use public parks due to segregation. Throughout Texas, freed people raised money to purchase land where they could hold celebrations. Black leaders in Texas raised $1,000 for the purchase of 10 acres of land to celebrate Juneteenth. Today that park is known as Houston's Emancipation Park.

Throughout the years the celebrations grew; in 1898 an estimated 30,000 black people celebrated at Booker T. Washington Park in Limestone County, Texas. By the 1890s Jubilee Day had become known as Juneteenth.

In 1980, Texas was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday. Today, activists are currently pushing Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday. Just this month, state governors of Virginia and New York signed an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a paid day of leave for state employees.

For local history, the Santa Barbara Public Library has a collection of historical photos showings the African American community on the Central Coast. The photos can be viewed here.

[Historical Source: Wikipedia]

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fitz Jun 21, 2020 07:40 AM
Celebrating Juneteenth

Just read the commentary by Rev. Moore in today's Indie. Wow. Please read his words. And then go to your churches and insist that action be taken. For me, a non-church goer, that action is Voting. I do know when I visit the church I used to attend, I am greeted by stacks of a Catholic newspaper that promote the candidacy of the incumbent President. How can any Church support a person who promotes hate and spews racist dog whistles (kung flu, lowlifes, et. al).

mjackman44 Jun 21, 2020 12:04 AM
Celebrating Juneteenth

Last word: the Chumash families and the settlers who were over 50% black or Mixed built that sacred place where all lives are celebrated, .and where shared arts and crafts and rituals are still honored at each event. They were paid and their religions shared. Yanolani’s son is buried in that Chapel. Later post- Spanish periods were less kind. Seems current ones are too.

Babycakes Jun 20, 2020 02:22 PM
Celebrating Juneteenth

MJackmann: You've completely left out any/all Chumash history and legacy. I'm not much for cultural appropriating, but c'mon, there were tens of thousands here loooooooooooong before your peeps.

mjackman44 Jun 20, 2020 12:36 PM
Celebrating Juneteenth

More: We continue to support the Black Legend, and the migration of people with accusations of deliberate displacement by the founding Spanish speaking families which is a false narrative. This has more to do with development and not history of the Spanish legacy--ignored in later migrations. Spain was out of here by 1820 and had already banned slavery in 1813 by decree--way ahead of the "US". Stop ignoring our roots and blaming people and statues that cannot defend themselves. Stop killing legitimate and informative history (both worthy and unworthy at times) so the new "hysterics" can simply use technology to create their own.

mjackman44 Jun 20, 2020 12:30 PM
Celebrating Juneteenth

Maybe we can stop bashing Pearl Chase who guided this City until her death in the 70's, and helped these folks directly. She was invited to many Black events as a supporter of this community. Can we just stop and get this all straight. We started with diversity and the founding site of this City in 1782--and it makes no sense to pervert the truth or does it? I actually sent this picture to the Independent in hopes we could publish the truth that the first families who arrived here were former slaves and of mixed race people --the Spanish freed if they became settlers in North America --no Spanish born except for one servant and as Descendents. The Presidio Chapel was where they began, over 50% of this families BLACK. The truth is being perverted and history rewritten inaccurately and for "political" expediency as statues are assaulted by the ignorant as a pasttime --pun intended?

a-1593772609 Jun 21, 2020 07:55 PM
Celebrating Juneteenth

@Mjackman - that is quite an idyllic version of history you've created, not exactly accurate but it sounds nice I guess.

mjackman44 Jun 21, 2020 09:18 AM
Celebrating Juneteenth

I think there has always been a plan for at least 40 years to forget/reframe real history here in exchange for subjective opinions about our City's founders and their motives . Ironic it was a pandemic at that time that took the lives of the natives--not "brutality" in those early decades. That is the point. You are right tp ask. Who is Pearl Chase? She won many awards for her works as an "old school" social worker--bringing people together as in that photo that does not mention she is the white in the back row and invited to Black events she supports financially and personally. Pearl is a symbolic pearl in the real historic necklace/ beads of of our City--influencing the theme of early Spanish building and architecture. Advocate, voice of reason. I saw her in action in the 1970's. The Presidio was and still will be the place of historic building since 1790, education, weddings, meetings, inclusion, collaboration, reflecting civic beginnings with the highest level of mutual respect, shared wisdom, and values. This is not what is implied or taught now, nor even believed as local historic statues are guilty and "lynched" without a trial! Those first years were difficult for all, but Pearl wanted them remembered as a great moment and a worthy beginning of natural diversity succeeding to build a City and protect it. It was black/Hispanic people who gave the Presidio its soul and continuing hope for more understanding, much needed order. Still a possibility?

a-1593772609 Jun 21, 2020 04:08 AM
Celebrating Juneteenth

I. Am. SO. Lost. Where's the Pearl Chase bashing? Were many posts deleted without notice? Did I miss a few hundred pages in a history book? What is going on?! M Jackman, if you really want to educate people, please slow down, step back, and please do so. I'd like to learn more about what I think you're trying to say, if you can speak to it.

Alma Krause Jun 20, 2020 09:31 AM
Celebrating Juneteenth

Note in the photo to the right of the second column from the right, none other than Pearl Chase.

a-1593772609 Jun 19, 2020 05:52 PM
Celebrating Juneteenth

Irony. Mrs. BV Hill was born in SB, grew up on her Dad’s farm on the lower east side, worked at Ott’s for decades, and was forced out of her home so the city could build lower cost public housing there. Similarly, some of the multi-generational Chumash were forced out of town (moving to Orcutt) for more “redevelopment.” It’s sad that the most progressive in our community don’t know these facts, but lobby for more help for “minorities,” while evicting the black & brown residents who were here for generations, and who helped to build this town.

Shasta Guy Jun 19, 2020 05:29 PM
Celebrating Juneteenth

Thanks for the background of Juneteenth. We’ve come a longways and we still have far to go.

Minibeast Jun 19, 2020 03:45 PM
Celebrating Juneteenth

As we all say "farewell" to Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth, Uncle Ben and the Cream of Wheat guy, Band-Aid is now coming out with variations on flesh-toned adhesive bandages. Really curious to see what's next.

@chelsea Jun 21, 2020 07:35 AM
Celebrating Juneteenth

I think I'll watch it one last time before it is Banned.

Minibeast Jun 20, 2020 04:05 PM
Celebrating Juneteenth

I get no kick from champagne . . . Are you from Kansas? ----------------https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZrmp9tXGb0

a-1593772609 Jun 20, 2020 12:25 AM
Celebrating Juneteenth

Browndages and TruColor have offered this product for years and are owned by black people. Way to profit off current events, Bandaid.

a-1593772609 Jun 19, 2020 07:20 PM
Celebrating Juneteenth

I’ve always thought that scene from Airplane was ironic, poking fun at white folk who think black folk are a strange breed.

Babycakes Jun 19, 2020 05:01 PM
Celebrating Juneteenth

Mini-B: The "Jive Talk" scene from the movie 'Airplane!' has been forever deleted. That was the scene where Barbara Billingsly (the Mom from 'Leave It To Beaver' fame) speaks "jive" to two African American gentlemen who are passengers on the plane. Extremely degrading and racist in today's terms.

a-1593772609 Jun 19, 2020 03:17 PM
Celebrating Juneteenth

Til earth and heaven ring... Ring with the harmonies of Liberty... Let our rejoicing rise... High as the list'ning skies... Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.... Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us... Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us... Facing the rising sun of our new day begun... Let us march on 'til victory is won...

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