ROSE NOLEN: Emancipation Day reminds us of our history, community

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

In my family, we’ve always celebrated Emancipation Day on the Fourth of August. I’ve been celebrating it on that day since I was a child.

According to some black historians, African Americans held the celebration on that same day even before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. It is believed by some that free blacks observed that day as a protest day since England freed the slaves in the West Indies on Aug. 1, 1834.

In any case, we have observed Independence Day in Clinton, Mo., on that date since on or before 1892.

Today, many communities observe Juneteenth as their Emancipation Day. This celebration originated in Texas where slaves were not aware of their emancipation until June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger read a special order from President Abraham Lincoln in Galveston, Texas.

In our case, we always got up bright and early on Aug. 4, traveled to Clinton and spent the day playing games and having a picnic lunch. In those days, we held President Lincoln and the Republican Party in high esteem.

As young children in school, we learned the Emancipation Proclamation along with the Constitution of the United States. These were important documents that we held close to our hearts.

The story of slavery is very important in African-American history. The men and women who endured the hardships and overcame the struggles are the heroes and heroines of our story.

They fought the good fight and they finished the race for freedom. We have heard tale after tale of their courage and their bravery.

As we struggle to educate young people these days, I often think of the many lessons to be learned from these courageous people on their road to freedom.

We owe them a great debt of gratitude for their perseverance. We have profited from their teaching and their stories of endurance.

These days we don’t seem to celebrate holidays the way we once did, and we take so many things for granted. As we welcome immigrants into our cities and towns, we need to share our various stories. They may be interested in our journey.

Coming together for the purpose of celebrating "community" is a good thing. As crime and violence threaten to rob us of the benefits of having a good time, we need to come together. We need to discuss ways we can work to make things better.

Drugs are rampant and destroying the lives of young people. We need to make decisions about what we are going to do about that. We can‘t continue to set on the sidelines and keep quiet. We’re going to have to speak up.

Time waits for no one, not even us.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at  

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