“The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Blacks in America have always been cognizant of the arc of the moral universe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. referenced when he amplified his “We Shall Overcome” message in 1968 by borrowing the poignant phrase.
More than any other race the most disfranchised in the USA fully understand that throughout 400 years of suppression arcs had to be pried and forced to the limit in order to bend anywhere near justice.
Two days before the anniversary of June 19, Juneteenth was proclaimed a national holiday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo took the initiative to announce that in honor of the federal achievement 11 landmarks throughout New York state would mark the historic decision by lighting buildings in the colors of red, black, and green.
Last year amid Black Lives Matter protests and the reckoning following the murder of George Floyd, the state leader issued a proclamation naming Juneteenth a significant date of acknowledgement.
He repeated the bold precedence in 2021.
“New York is proud to join the entire country in our first national commemoration of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans,” Cuomo said.
He continued to emphasize his message saying: “While Juneteenth may be our newest federal holiday, the ethos we observe today — that independence, equality, and liberty for all are only guaranteed when we march as one towards those ideals; that the arc of the moral universe only bends towards justice when we work together to bend it — has always been the foundation of our national identity.”
“I was proud to make this a state holiday last year because New York has always, and will always, stand with and support all those working to help our country live up to its founding ideals. Our thoughts are with all those who worked so hard and for so long to bring today’s national celebration to fruition.”
June 19 AKA Freedom Day, Emancipation Day or Jubilee Day is officially the 12th federal holiday.
The newest day of honor resonated with jubilation for more than a few.
Opal Lee, a 94-years-old Texan, said from her childhood years she always marked the date with nostalgia and reverence.
She was able to bear witness that her dream of seeing other states recognize the significance of the history that occurred in her home state a century and a half ago.
Lee was present when President Joe Biden signed the bill to advance the status of the Emancipation Proclamation to become a national holiday.
During the ceremony, the commander-in-chief opined on Lee’s intrepid journey as a 12-year-old girl who witnessed the destruction of her home alongside her family during a Juneteenth celebration in 1939 to now being hailed the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.”
The traumatic event remained foremost in her memory when as a child she watched white racists burn her home to the ground.
Much has been said of Lee’s annual walks from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington D.C. to convince legislators that Juneteenth should become the 12th national holiday.
When President Barack Obama occupied the White House, the nicknamed matriarch of the jubilee tried to plead his attention.
Reportedly she embarked on that mission at age 89.
How she made the 1, 400-mile annual mission was not lost on thousands who shared her dream of honoring the ancestors who slaved without compensation.
Each year, enlightenment masses joined her carrying placards while sharing her optimism.
Last Saturday employees at Trader Joe’s retail outlet wore black in solidarity of the milestone holiday.
Some of the usually cordial staffers even offered salutations expressing good wishes of the day.
For the first time ever Blacks in America converged on parks, plazas, and other open spaces to celebrate their blackness.
Actually it was much more than that, for many the gatherings commemorated the anniversary date in 1865 when enslaved ancestors in Galveston, Texas were informed of the freedom they were granted two and a half years earlier but for unexplained reasons were never told.
True, excuses have been banded about blaming Union Soldiers, selfish and covetous slave owners, capitalists, white supremacists and the slowness of messengering during those times.
However, those in the know claim trickery akin to the promise of gifting 40 Acres and A Mule to freed slaves.
But that’s yet another story.
The presidential signing seemed a progressive action media embraced.
WBAI-FM dedicated their entire broadcast day to programming content aimed at informing their select, listener-supported radio audience.
Online outlets hosted pertinent podcasts as well as streamed Black Jeopardy specials and social media reached past the worldwide web to extend sentiments of a Happy Freedom Day.
Broadway celebrated with a two-hour, free, outdoor musical presentation in Times Square.
Acclaimed for being the burial ground of colonial-era Blacks, Van Cortland Park in the Bronx flaunted its history by hosting a cultural concert.
Roy Wilkins Park in Queens held ethnically diverse celebrations.
At the Flatbush Junction in Brooklyn, the unveiling of a six-foot statue of George Floyd was followed by a march across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Floyd was murdered one month before last year’s Freedom Day commemoration and perhaps his brutish, racist murder might have sparked national awareness of the unifying Black tradition.
Weather permitted a truly celebratory first national holiday celebration.
Not since 1993 when a national holiday was named for Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has a federal holiday declared one that acknowledges the pride of African ancestry.
There were those who spent the day with a sense of purposefully gathering with family for outings, barbecues, picnics — Freedom Day for fathers and from COVID -`19 distancing.
Some gathered around the Wall St. area which was home and an African burial ground to 20,000 slaves.
Donald Trump wanted to build a hotel at the site but Black activists, the likes of Brooklyn’s own Sonny Carson stopped him in his tracks when skeletal remains of babies, mothers and fathers were unearthed.
Protests by Black activists stopped construction resulting with the earliest and largest African Burial Ground rediscovered in America and a park designated a national monument.
The Burial Ground dates from the middle 1630s to 1795.
May freedom continue to ring.
Catch You On The Inside!