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Celebrating Juneteenth

19 Jun

Juneteenth PhotoJuneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas in 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American citizens throughout the United States.

It was on June 19th, that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were now free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official on January 1, 1863. This day is celebrated by African Americans in honor of their ancestors who received notice of being set free from slavery on June 19, 1865.

Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.  The holiday is observed primarily in local celebrations. Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, and readings authored by African American writers such as Maya Angelou and Ralph Ellison. Celebrations sometimes take the form of parades, rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, or Miss Juneteenth contests.Juneteenth Flag 1

The Juneteenth flag consists of a rectangle. The lower part of the rectangle is red and the upper part is blue and it has a solid white, five-pointed star at its center. The star is surrounded by a white outline of a 12-pointed star. The Juneteenth flag is often displayed with the United States flag to symbolize that slavery is illegal.

In Texas and some other southern states, the traditional drink on Juneteenth is Big Red soda. This variety of cream soda is a sweet, soft drink flavored with orange and lemon oils and vanilla. It is available in different flavors and with or without caffeine and sugar.

For more information about Juneteenth, visit www.juneteenth.com and www.nationaljuneteenth.com.

 

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California Red Tails to Fly Over Allensworth for Juneteenth Celebration

12 Jun

Juneteenth ImageColonel Allensworth State Historical Park is the only California town to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans.  On June 14, from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Friends of Allensworth will host its annual Juneteenth celebration.

When: Saturday, June 14, 2014

Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Where: Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. It was on June 19th, that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were now free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official on January 1, 1863. This day is celebrated by African Americans in honor of their ancestors who received notice of being set free from slavery on June 19, 1865.

There will be great entertainment, great speakers and, of course, fabulous free tours of the historic buildings, given by the Friends of Allensworth docents for your educational enrichment.

This year there will be a special treat.  The California Redtails will participate in a fly-over at Allensworth State Park.  The pilots will meet at Delano Municipal Airport for a pre-flight briefing and depart for the state parCalifornia Redtailsk known as the first Black township in California.  Ten private airplanes from throughout California; Hayward, Watsonville, Compton, Whiteman, Cable, and Hawthorne will descend on the Delano Municipal Airport. They will receive a short safety briefing and pre-flight review, then remount their planes and taxi to runway 32. After receiving clearance from the tower they will takeoff one after the other and head north.

Upon receiving the signal from the ground crew, the pilots will turn south, then lineup in a formation. The lead pilot gives the command “Tighten Up, Straighten Up and Fly Right” and the formation drops down to 1,000 ft as they fly over the Juneteenth celebration at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.

Colonel Allensworth

Colonel Allensworth

The pilots are members of the California Red Tails, one of fourteen Black Pilots of America chapters. The Black Pilots of America is a non-profit flying organization that encourages under privileged youth to enter the field of aviation. The California Redtails are named after 332nd fighter group, the African American fighter pilots that escorted bombers during World War Two. They are better known as the Tuskegee Airmen because they were trained at Tuskegee, Alabama.

The campground at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park is named after Tuskegee Airmen Lieutenant Colonel John “Mr. Death” L. Whitehead, Jr., who served in World War Two, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

For more information or to request a vendor application contact Friends of Allensworth President Thomas Stratton at 530-949-2168 or info@friendsofallensworth.org.

For more information, visit http://www.friendsofallensworth.com/index.html , blogforallensworth.blogspot.com , http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=583 and to download a flyer, click here:  Red Tails Flyer for 2014 Juneteenth Celebration at Allensworth.

The Etymology of “Picnic”

18 Jun

Several LATTC BFSA meetings ago, some members were concerned about using the term, “picnic” in describing our Juneteenth celebration.  Etymologists dismiss the claim that the word picnic derived from events in which blacks were lynched, and online sources like Snopes and Urban Legends support those claims.

However, the response from Dr. David Pilgrim, sociology professor and curator of Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, describes a different perspective.  He said that although “etymologists smugly dismiss the claim” that picnic began with the lynchings of black Americans, there is some truth in it, “as the lynchings of blacks often occurred in picnic-like settings.”  Read the whole response at  http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/question/jan04.htm and visit their archives for more interesting readings.

So, should we or should we not use the term?