By Robert Bernstein
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, almost two years after the start of the Civil War. This was supposed to have freed the people being held as slaves in what was then the Confederacy.
But it meant nothing until or unless the Union soldiers could actually enforce it. Texas was the furthest part of the Confederacy from the Union fighters. Many slave owners in more eastern states moved to Texas with their slaves in hopes of prolonging their brutal lifestyle.
It was not until June 19, 1865 that slaves in Galveston, Texas learned that they were free. The final official end to the enslavement of human beings in the United States. The day came to be known as “Juneteenth”. It was celebrated originally in Texas, but over time the celebrations have spread all over the US. It is a celebration of Black freedom and Black culture in the US.
An important footnote: Slavery continued long after that in the US due to a network of laws that allowed Black people to be arrested on trivial charges and forced back onto plantations as “prisoners”. These slaves received no pay and could not leave, but they were treated worse than when they were considered property.
In June 2021, President Biden signed a law making Juneteenth a Federal holiday.
For five years, Juneteenth Santa Barbara has created local celebrations of Juneteenth. And on Sunday, June 19, 2022 they created a Block Party on Gray Avenue in the Funk Zone to celebrate. The Funk Zone had been a Black neighborhood historically, until Black people were driven out. Here are my photos.
Crowds of people strolled Gray Avenue and visited various information booths.
Here the organizers welcomed people to the event.
In this video, Jackie Chin was MC of the day with co-founders, Chiany Dri and Jordan Killebrew. Then people from Healing Justice spoke: Krystle Sieghart Farmer and Leticia Resche. These four people plus Simon Ruskamp (not at the event) were the JuneTeam Core Organizers.
Here is Chiany Dri:
Here are Krystle Sieghart Farmer and Leticia Resche:
In this video, the SB Rollers skaters performed on the street as musician Talitha Gabrielle performed on stage.
Here is Talitha Gabrielle and the crowd watching her.
Next up was poet Sojourner Kincaid Rolle telling the story of her poem “Free at Last” that told the story of Juneteenth. The poem had been turned into a beautiful children’s picture book. In this video, Sojourner told the story of the poem and then read the poem as organizer Jordan Killebrew turned the pages of the book.
Here were Sojourner and Jordan as they finished:
Shalhoobs offered local Funk Zone food for the event and people lined up for that:
I went to the Juneteenth information table and talked with Diane Travis-Teague (holding the Caring for the People poster) and others about the history of the local group.
Here is the website for Juneteenth Santa Barbara: https://juneteenthsb.org/
And here is their Facebook page where you can sign up to be notified about future events: https://www.facebook.com/JuneteenthSB