Julia Pearce wants people to celebrate the true Independence Day at the fifth annual Juneteenth Wade In on Friday morning.
The event recognizes June 19, 1865, the day Union Gen. Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops announced in Galveston, Texas, the end of slavery in the United States.
“Really, America’s Independence Day became what we call the Fourth of July,” said Pearce, the TybeeMLK coordinator. But in 1776, “thousands of Americans, African Americans, were still enslaved. Juneteenth is a celebration for all Americans.”
Attendees should gather at 9 a.m. in front of North Beach Bar & Grill at 33 Meddin Drive on Tybee Island.
Guest speaker will be Savannah attorney Chad Mance, Savannah NAACP vice president. He will be followed by Patt Gunn, a Gullah Geechee storyteller, and Roselyn Rouse, co-founders of Savannah Center for Jubilee, Reconciliation & Healing, who will walk with attendees to the wade-in.
Social distancing will be honored. Bring a chair for the beach, a face mask, and a noise maker to share the joyful moment, Pearce said.
“Juneteenth is America’s true Independence Day,” Pearce said. “July 4, 1776, enslaved people comprised 20% of the 13 colonies.
“Independence from the British meant freedom for white people and chattel slavery for black people. Not only that, colonists, blacks included, had just protested and fought against their own enslavement by the British, that was in obvious conflict to America’s growing slave population. Colonist had to use new arguments to justify slavery.
“So whiteness was born which is based on the lie of the inherent racial inferiority of people with African ancestry, ” Pearce said. “This myth exists today.
“Immediately after the Revolutionary War people took freedom seriously both in the north and south. Each state decided for itself how to handle the Slavery issue. The Civil War was fought over States Rights to have slaves.
“So it was 2 years, 6 months, 18 days after emancipation and 88 years, 11 months, 15 days after American’s 1776 Independence Day that the last enslaved people in Texas were freed,” Pearce later elaborated in an email.
Juneteenth is an American holiday celebrated on June 19, she included in the email. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on Jan. 1, 1863. Enslaved people in Texas received word of their freedom on June 19, 1965. That is 2 years, 6 months and 19 days after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
Texas was the last Confederate state to have the proclamation announced, after the end of the Civil War in April 1865, she wrote in her email.
Texas was the most remote of slave states with minimal fighting so there were few Union troops present to enforce the Emancipation. Juneteenth is also known as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day and Emancipation Day.
Juneteenth is Freedom Day for all and the event is open to all, she said.
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