Culture

Here’s Why Texas Takes Up Such An Important Place In The History Of Juneteenth And The Abolition Movement

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For those of you unaware, Juneteenth is the holiday that officially commemorates the abolishment of slavery in America. While the Emancipation Proclamation was signed over two years earlier, we celebrate Juneteenth because it’s the day Texas finally complied with the law and informed slaves they were free.

Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, made effective beginning January 1, 1863.

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Back in the late 1800s, word traveled slowly. When the Civil War was won, it took over two months for Confederate soldiers to hear that Robert E. Lee surrendered. Other more sinister and likely theories are that slaveowners kept the news a secret for as long as possible, and/or someone actually killed the messenger sent by the Federal government to relay the news.

Thirty months later, Galveston Island, Texas, was the last town in America that was illegally enslaving African Americans.

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General Gordon Granger and his cohort of Union soldiers had been traveling the South for two years to spread the word that slaves were freed. His last stop was Galveston Island, on June 19th, 1865.

The story has it that the freed slaves left before Granger finished his announcement.

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Droves of freed African-Americans fled Texas to find more welcoming (northern) parts of the U.S. While Juneteenth is the day we celebrate freedom, slavery never ended. There were several reports of slave owners deliberately waiting to free their slaves until after the harvest.

In a way, Juneteenth commemorates what we all already know to be true: justice delayed for Black and brown folks is somehow worth celebrating.

When freed slaves tried to celebrate Juneteenth a year later, Jim Crow laws were already in effect.

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There were no public places they could use. A group of freed slaves in Houston pooled $800 to purchase what is now called “Emancipation Park.” For seventy more years, it would be the only public park and swimming pool open to African-Americans in Houston.

The Mascogos, often called the Black Seminoles, live and celebrate Juneteenth in Coahuila, Mexico.

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The origin of this group is difficult to pinpoint. Some say they were African slaves of the Florida Seminole tribe and fled to Mexico, where they made alliances with local indigenous groups. Others say that they were freed slaves who lived among the Florida Seminole tribes as equals and created their own community.

Every year, what’s left of the community celebrates Juneteenth in full regalia.

Texas was the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a state-wide holiday.

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When Barack Obama was a Senator, he co-sponsored legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday. He continued that fight into his presidency, but it never passed.

To this day, it’s shocking how many folks pass by Juneteenth and look to July 4th as a celebration of freedom.

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If Fannie Lou Hammer was right in saying “nobody’s free until everybody’s free,” then America’s founding ain’t the day to celebrate. Juneteenth put an end to the repulsive founding of America–built on the backs of Black men and women.

Juneteenth is both a day of celebration and resistance of modern-day slavery.

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Over 150 years later, no meaningful reparations have been made to the descendants of slaves. The effects of slavery and Jim Crow live on in our laws as our country legally throws descendants of slaves into prison, into underfunded schools, and are legally murdered by police at disproportionate rates. One in every 13 African Americans has been stripped of the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws. White supremacy reigns.

Black America, we are with you.

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Juneteenth is a day more Americans should celebrate. July 4th is a holiday that will always symbolize the freedom of the nation from the ruling of England. However, Juneteenth is when the nation decided to end the cruel and horrible act of slavery.

READ: Vogue Brazil Style Director Resigns After Hosting A “Slavery” Party

A Tragic Accident Left Two Teenage Daughters Without Parents While Vacationing In Turks And Caicos

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A Tragic Accident Left Two Teenage Daughters Without Parents While Vacationing In Turks And Caicos

Irma Isabel Barrera / Facebook

There is terrible news out of the Turks and Caicos Islands where authorities say three Texas tourists, including a married couple, drowned during a recent vacation. According to People Magazine, the couple, Irma Barrera, 33, and her husband, Roy Perez, 38, were vacationing with their 15-year-old daughter and the third victim and his daughter when they drowned after getting caught in a quick-moving tide this past Monday. 

The group was reportedly exploring Bambarra Beach, a popular and scenic tourist area when the group of five got caught in a tidal wave that fueled by strong winds. The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force said the incident happened around 1 p.m. near the beach which is located on the sparsely populated island of Middle Caicos.

Barrera’s body would be found washed ashore shortly after the incident and after searchers scoured the beaches, they recovered Perez’s a few hours later. The third body, identified as Dr. Richard Okoloise, was discovered early on Tuesday morning with assistance from the US Coast Guard.

The terrible incident has now left two families torn apart and two children devastated by the loss of a parent.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

The victims belonged to two families who hailed from Texas. Their families say the group was vacationing together along with their two girls. Residents in the area say that the families may have been attempting to swim a short distance through the shallow waters from Bambarra Beach to Pelican Cay, which is nearby to the beach when they were swept away in the fast-moving tide.

Rescuers were able to rescue both of the young girls from the water and save them from drowning. Both were being cared for shortly after by local social welfare services. Family members back home are working to get the children back to the home to the United States. According to KTRK-TV, family members of Barrera’s and Perez’s were traveling to the Caribbean archipelago on Wednesday to bring the couple’s daughter home and seek more answers on how this incident could have ever happened. 

“This was a tragic loss of life and obviously all of us are asking every question we can about what went wrong,” Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting said in a public statement. “Our thoughts and our prayers go out to everyone, most especially the children involved.

“We live in a world filled with many bad things, but we still have good Samaritans,” Botting added. “I would like to thank those who came to the aide of the children and everyone who were a part of the search and rescue, this includes volunteers, our Emergency Response Teams and the U.S. Coastguard Helicopter crew.”

We are now learning more about the couple and father who tragically drowned. 

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Families and friends are now mourning the horrible incident and remembering those who have been lost. According to her Facebook profile, Barrera worked as a nurse at Angleton Emergency Room while her husband is being called a “family man” by various friends on Facebook. 

“My classmate, friend, brother this is how I’ll remember you. Every picture with your family always brought a smile. A class clown to say the least! I remember about a year ago you messaged me saying that you were proud of me. Yet today I want to say how proud I am of you. Your daughters adore you man! Your daughters will forever be in my prayers. May You & your Wife Rest In Peace.” a friend wrote on his Facebook profile.

Okoloise, an emergency medicine physician in Angleton, Texas, is being also hailed a great person who had an undeniable love for his young daughter. He was said to have always wanted to travel to Turks and Caicos if he ever got rich. 

“He loved medicine, traveling, and his family,” Annamarie Kilgore, a friend and colleague of Okoloise wrote on Facebook. “I will miss his ridiculous talks. However, I’m thankful he was called while being in his favorite place in the world. He always told me ‘if I ever disappear after a lottery win, I’ll be hiding in Turks and Caicos.'”

The deadly incident has prompted calls from local residents for authorities to put up warning signs on the islands which are often-deserted beaches. It’s yet to be determined if any action will be taken to further stop any future incident similar to this. 

Family friends have set up a GoFundMe page to pay for funeral arrangements.

READ: Central Americans Flee Their Countries Because Of Violence But Also Because They Have No Water

This Corrido About The Shooting In El Paso, Texas, Will Break Your Heart And Make You Proud To Be Mexican

Entertainment

This Corrido About The Shooting In El Paso, Texas, Will Break Your Heart And Make You Proud To Be Mexican

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In Mexican culture, storytelling is everything. Our stories are rarely written down on a page, let alone documented by government officials, which means it is up to us to tell the stories, so they are never forgotten. It’s a practice as old as time. Aside from oral histories that are told within families and communities, Mexicans also write corridos — Spanish ballads — that tell a story about a particular moment or situation. They all contain the same musical melody, which makes them so recognizable. Oxford bibliographies note that corridos are “typically performed a cappella or accompanied by stringed instruments, most commonly guitars,” and it is “performed in regular dance meters, they are commonly set to waltz or polka rhythms.” So, while the melody may be familiar, it is the words to each corrido that makes the song distinctive. It’s our musical tradition that dates back to the Mexican Revolutions of the 20th century, and they remain very much alive today. 

On Tuesday, two Latinos performed a corrido titled “El Llanto de El Paso Texas” during a vigil in El Paso, Texas. 

Here’s the English translation of the Spanish song:  

“I’m going to sing a corrido/ Listen closely/ In the United States/ City of El Paso Texas/ Many people are crying/ Because of what happened here/ On the 3rd of August/ One Saturday morning/ At Walmart by Cielo Vista/ People walked peacefully/ But they never imagined/ Their lives would be changed/ You could hear several gunshots/ A gun went off/ The massacre began/ And my people got scared/ They didn’t know where to run/ But everyone helped each other/ These things that I tell you/ The news reported about it/ 22 dead and 26 injured/ El Chuco is now sad/ Many families are mourning/ It was an act of terrorism/ That this monster caused/ He tried to break my people/ Be he didn’t achieve that/ Now we are more united/ Thanks be to god.”

This powerful Spanish ballad was recorded and tweeted by photojournalist J. Omar Ornelas.

Credit: @fotornelas / Twitter

The vigil, which fell on the eve before President Donald Trump’s visit to El Paso included several moments of prayer by the hundreds in attendance. Ornelas tweeted, “In death nobody kills us, we only know how to be reborn with our culture,” and added, “the power of prayer was visible.” 

People loved the song’s poignant message that both informed about what happened, and spoke of strength and unity.

Credit: @itsjveliz / Twitter

@amiradelagarza tweeted, “A corrido about the Cielo Vista massacre in El Paso — because the Mexican response to suffering and death is not to turn away from it. 

Another said, “Already there’s a powerful corrido about the El Paso shootings. Best line: ‘…quiso romper a mi gente, pero esto no lo logro…’ (‘…he tried to break my people, but this couldn’t do…’) #ElPasoStrong.”

This corridor is just the latest tune to go viral in the wake of the El Paso shooting.

Credit: @AngelicaMCasas / Twitter

Earlier this week, a local mariachi shared their rendition of the classic song of loss by Juan Gabriel,  “Amor Eterno.” The song which is typically played during funerals or at somber moments showed the resilience of the Latino community as well as pride for the Mexican culture. 

Nancy Hernandez tweeted, “Not only Mexicans, most Latinos use this song. Breaks my heart every time I hear it! But what do hateful racists know about our great heritage/spirituality/love of God. #BanTrumpFromElPaso #RespectTheDead I would roll over in my grave! #TrumpIsARacist 7 were Mexicans!” Michael Esposito said, “Amor Eterno is one of the most heart-rending songs ever written, and masterfully clothes the profound sadness of losing a loved one with high artistry. I get goosebumps listening to it, whether it’s the composer Juan Gabriel’s version or Rocío Dúrcal’s version.”

Corridos are also infamously known to tell the stories about the drug cartel. While it may have a violent connect, corridos mostly speak of heartbreak. 

Like folk songs of the ’60s, corridos are extremely crucial to the understanding of a particular culture. Corridos are relevant and studied. Several books have been written about the topic including, Gurza, Agustín “A Century of Corridos: The Musical History of Mexico and Its People,” Hernández, Guillermo E, “What Is a Corrido? Thematic Representation and Narrative Discourse.” 

Now, “El Llanto de El Paso Texas” will be forever remembered as the corrido that was about a tragic day in El Paso, Texas. 

READ: While El Paso Was A Devastating Moment In U.S. History, These People Stood Up To Save Anyone They Could

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