Pulling Teenth

Readers sound off on Juneteenth.

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News Real, May 16, 2007

Pro-Teenth: Until recently I was executive director of Juneteenth of Tampa Bay. With regard to Chad Garrison's "Bring Back Juneteenth!" Juneteenth is the oldest holiday in the U.S. commemorating freedom from legal slavery in America, and it was established by our African-ancestored Americans when they received word of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in the entire United States of America.

Why is it not a legal federal holiday? After all, this fundamentally changed the direction in which American civilized society was headed. What is civil about forcing captured people to use their creativity, labor and other resources to build an economy for the capturers? Why should I trust the decedents of the capturers to look out for my better interest and future development when they are continuing to utilize and benefit from the forced labor and economics generated from that stolen labor, without any regard to reconciling with me and my people with no attempt to repair the injury with reparations?

Let's be honest: The systems that govern America came from the enslavement of our African-ancestored Americans, and if we factor them out where would America be? Let's be fair and distribute taxpayers' dollars back to our diverse communities, and show the benefits of reconciliation and inspire future development. The all-European-ancestored organizations are not able to promote our legacy. We must do that in our own way. Neither are they in a position to determine and define what success is for our community. No one in this country is in a position to judge, because we all have fallen and come short of the glory.

Jeanie Blue, St. Petersburg, Florida

More history: It appears that Curtis Faulkner has discovered a way to line his own purse, using racism and taxpayers' money to do so. The reason Texas refused to underwrite a Juneteenth celebration is because Texans are not easily taken in by revisionist history.

Little wonder that a handful of Texas slaves in 1865 had never heard of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of two years earlier. Confederate Texas was not under Lincoln's legal jurisdiction. Emancipation did not occur until December 6, 1865, with the Thirteenth Amendment, when slavery ended in all of America, including the former Union slave states and in Washington, D.C., itself. The Texas "Juneteenth honoree" slaves were still enslaved when discovered by Union troops in June 1865, and remained so for six months thereafter — so what does Juneteenth have to do with it?

Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation had not ended slavery at all. In fact, he did not intend for it to do so. It was a war effort with five purposes, of which he realized only one. Ending slavery was not one of the five. Fact is, but for Lincoln's untimely death and his radical surviving cabinet's seizing of the moment to create the Lincoln Myth, we ourselves to this day might never have heard of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. They had to dig it out, dust it off and give it a new meaning in 1865. Lincoln was probably rolling over in his casket before his funeral train reached Springfield.

Hey, it's a free country, Mr. F. Plan your own celebration, pay for its overhead costs just like anyone else would do, and if you can make a profit, good luck to you. That's what freedom is all about. Someone else paying for your overhead is what slavery was all about. Bob Arnold, St. Peters

Count Dennis out: I had never heard of Juneteenth. I never heard about the story of how these slaves from Texas weren't told of their freedom until two and a half years later.

As for the Juneteenth jazz festival: Have the festival, but I don't want my tax dollars going to it. Find business supporters or do a fundraiser to get it up and running. Tax dollars should be used to better our schools, the educational system, the zoo and places like the Science Center — not an event that costs $2 million and will only last a day or two.

Dennis Botonis, St. Louis

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