Culture

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

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

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In Crackdown on Domestic Slavery, Brazilian Authorities Rescued a Maid Who Had Been Enslaved For 40 Years

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In Crackdown on Domestic Slavery, Brazilian Authorities Rescued a Maid Who Had Been Enslaved For 40 Years

Photo: Getty Images

On December 21st, Brazilian authorities revealed that they had rescued a woman from a family who had been keeping her as a domestic slave for nearly 40 years.

The woman was also forced into a marriage with one of the family’s elderly relatives so that the family could continue to cash in on his pension when he died.

According to local authorities, the unnamed woman had been kept in unpaid servitude by the family since she was a child, when her “destitute” family gave her up.

The woman worked as a domestic slave for the family of Unipam university professor Dalton Cesar Milagres Rigueira. Before that, she had worked for Rigueira’s mother, who had “raised” her from childhood.

“They gave her food when she was hungry, but all other rights were taken from her,” said Humberto Camasmie, the inspector in charge of the rescue operation, to Reuters.

Authorities were alerted to the woman’s situation when neighbors tipped off local officials to what they believed was an illegal working situation. According to the neighbors, they grew suspicious when the woman began sending them notes asking for food and sanitary products.

Prosecutors say that Rigueira could face up to eight years in jail.

They are also pushing to get him to monetarily compensate the woman for an undisclosed sum. Authorities are also working to reunite her with her biological family.

After her rescue, the woman was taken to a shelter where she was attended to psychologists and social workers. She is also being provided with a pension of R$ 8,000 ($1,557) a month–seven times higher than Brazil’s minimum wage.

“She did not know what a minimum wage was,” said Camasmie. “Now she’s learning how to use a credit card. She knows that every month she will be paid a substantial amount (from the pension).”

Unfortunately, domestic slavery is a rampant and unchecked problem in Brazil.

To make matters worse, domestic slavery is hard to crack down on because the victims rarely know that they are, indeed, victims. Many of the enslaved women have been unpaid domestic workers since they were small children. Sometimes, they may even feel grateful or indebted to their captors for raising and feeding them.

In June, a similar case made headlines when authorities discovered a 61-year-old had been working as an unpaid maid for an unknown amount of years. The woman was found living in a shed. Her “employer” was an executive for the cosmetics company, Avon.

“The longer the victim remains in the home environment with deprivation of … rights, the more difficult it is to (carry out a) rescue,” said Mauricio Krepsky, head of the Division of Inspection for the Eradication of Slave Labor, to Reuters in August.

These enslaved maids are given little freedom to leave the house, see other people, or have time off. They are never paid. They are completely reliant on the families they serve.

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Former Texas State Senate Candidate Says She Was ‘Tortured’ in a Hotel Room After a Violent Ambush

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Former Texas State Senate Candidate Says She Was ‘Tortured’ in a Hotel Room After a Violent Ambush

Photo: Vanessa Tijerina/Facebook

Texas police are currently trying to get to the bottom of a disturbing incident that happened in Raymondville on Monday.

Former Republican candidate for Texas state Senate, Vanessa Tijerina, posted a shocking 10-minute Facebook Live video detailing the brutal assault she experienced in a nearby hotel on Monday.

Tijerina appeared in the video with her face looking unrecognizable. She had two black eyes–both of which were swollen almost completely shut.

Her face was covered in bruises. Her speech was impaired from how much swelling she was experiencing. It looked–to be blunt–like she had been beaten to a pulp.

Through tears, Tijerina explained to her followers that she was lured to a hotel room by some unnamed assailants who led her to believe they had “something really really really important” to tell her that they couldn’t tell her over the phone.

But once she was alone in the hotel room, the assailants “gagged, bound [and] tortured” her.

“I was beaten. I was terrorized, bound, gagged, tortured,” she said in the Facebook Live video.

“I never fought back because I knew that if I fought back, it would’ve been worse and I probably wasn’t going to survive. And I needed to survive for my daughters.”

Although a motive for the assault hasn’t yet been established, Tijerina is a relatively high-profile figure in Texas’s Raymondville community. She is active on social media and regularly goes on Facebook live to engage with her followers and supporters. And with her high profile comes a litany of critics and haters who have created troll accounts with the express purpose of smearing her.

Despite all this, Tijerina refutes the rumors that she “did something” to motivate the beating.

“There was nothing that I did that made this okay for this to happen to me,” she said. Tijerina began to get increasingly more emotional as she talked about her children and the fact that she was not able to give her children the toys she bought them for Christmas.

So far, Raymondville police have arrested three suspects in connection to the assault: Amanda Salinas, Ariel Jamie Vela and Ramon Donato Santana Jr. As for who was on the phone giving orders at the time of the assault, police are still looking for answers.

As of this writing, the police have not yet publicly revealed a motive. But since her attack, Tijerina has again taken to her Facebook page to assert that the assault was “100% motivated by hate.”

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