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New York Amazon Workers Demand Paid Juneteenth Holiday

Six hundred of our Amazon co-workers at five warehouses around New York signed a petition demanding starting wages of $25 an hour, time-and-a-half pay for Prime Day (July 16-17), seasonal workers converted to permanent status within 30 days of employment, and Juneteenth as a paid holiday. The June 19 holiday celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S. and became a federal holiday in 2021—the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was recognized in 1983. We organized petitions across five warehouses: sort center LDJ5 on Staten Island, where packages are routed to local facilities; the massive fulfillment centers JFK8 on Staten Island and SWF1 in the Hudson Valley, where customer orders are packed; and delivery stations DBK4 and DNJ3 in Queens and the Bronx, where packages are put into delivery vehicles and dispatched to mailboxes or doorsteps.

The Problem With Juneteenth

The fact that members of the United States Senate voted unanimously to make Juneteenth a federal holiday proved that the commemoration is of no political value. Turning what was a peoples’ celebration into an occasion for opportunism and window dressing has actually damaged the cause of Black liberation and the understanding of history. On June 19, 1865 Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and issued General Order Three, a declaration that slavery had ended. The fact that this event occurred two months after the Civil War ended took on an understandably mythic quality, including a belief that the news had been deliberately kept from enslaved people, or that the person carrying the message had been killed.

Juneteenth: Embracing The Power Of Awareness And Repair

When President Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2021, I initially saw it as a symbolic gesture, unable to replace the concrete legislation needed to address the challenges faced by the Black community in America. However, as time passed and I had conversations with my white friends who had no idea about its historical origins, I started realizing the true importance of Juneteenth. It is not just another holiday, but a valuable lesson for America—a chance to confront its past and make amends for ongoing injustices. Juneteenth is a day that marks the liberation of enslaved African Americans in Texas. Can you believe it took more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation for them to learn they were finally free?

Juneteenth: Black Liberation Through Revolutionary Struggle

On June 19, 1865 Major General Gordon Granger and 1,800 Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, nearly two months after General Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy surrendered in the decisive battle of Appomattox, to announce that slavery finally ended with the issuing of General Order Number 3. This order stated: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” This declaration claimed that there would be “absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”

How One City Beat The US To Making Juneteenth An Official Paid Holiday

Princess Johnson, a dancer and owner of the Greensboro, North Carolina-based Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet, didn’t grow up celebrating Juneteenth. Even as a Black woman who grew up in the South, the holiday was something only a few people in her circle celebrated. “I didn’t know what it was exactly. Growing up in the United States, everything’s about the Fourth of July,” she says. Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, as many Black Americans call it, commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union troops brought word to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas that they were free under the Emancipation Proclamation. But the news of their freedom arrived late — about two years late.

A Juneteenth Call To Close Prisons

Juneteenth has become a federal holiday—yet prison slavery under the 13th Amendment continues. Uprooting the prison industrial complex is vital to completing the abolition of slavery. In California, the Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) coalition aims to close 10 state prisons in the next 5 years as part of the People’s Plan for Prison Closure. CURB Executive Director Amber-Rose Howard joins Rattling the Bars to discuss this bold plan. Amber-Rose Howard is a poet, public speaker and organizer from Pomona, California. She currently serves as Executive Director of CURB.

What Juneteenth Looks Like For Prisoners

Juneteenth is a bittersweet day for us — and all Black people in prison holding onto the promise of freedom. Let’s start with history. The Emancipation Proclamation — issued by Abraham Lincoln on Sept. 22, 1862, during the American Civil War — declared that all slaves in the Confederacy would be “forever free.” Unfortunately, that freedom didn’t extend to the four slaveholding states not in rebellion against the Union, and the proclamation was of course ignored by the Confederate states in rebellion. For the roughly 4 million people enslaved, Lincoln’s declaration was symbolic; only after the Civil War ended was the proclamation enforced.

Juneteenth Commemorated While Total Freedom For African Americans Remains Elusive

Juneteenth was designated as a federal holiday during 2021 by the United States administration of President Joe Biden. This act of recognition came in the aftermath of an upsurge in mass demonstrations and electoral mobilizations in response to the rash of police and vigilante killings of African Americans during 2020-2021. The holiday had been recognized and celebrated within African American communities largely concentrated in Texas and other areas of the South for over a century. After the surrender of the Confederate military forces in early April 1865, the fate of slavery as an economic system was sealed. Nonetheless, then President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with immediate effect beginning January 1, 1863.

Juneteenth Is About Black Liberation — Not Union Busting

For corporations, June has long been a time to adopt a facade of progressiveness while profiting from performing inclusivity of LGBTQ+ people. But in the past two years, a new occasion has fallen prey to this co-optation: Juneteenth. June 19 — or Juneteenth — commemorates the day that the final enslaved people in the U.S. were emancipated. On this day in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, a union general announced in Galveston, Texas that “in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” At the time, 250,000 Black people were still enslaved in the state. While Juneteenth has been celebrated every year since then — Texas was, in 1979, the first state to make it an official holiday — President Biden designated the date a federal holiday in June 2021.

The Problem With Juneteenth

"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere." General Order Number 3, June 19, 1865 *The fact that members of the United States Senate voted unanimously to make Juneteenth a federal holiday proved that the commemoration is of no political value.

Democrats And Banks Won’t Steal Juneteenth Or Pride

Every year, Pride Month ushers in the summer. For some, this is a celebration of the Stonewall uprising. For corporations and the Democratic Party, it’s a time to co-opt what was once a radical quer movement. Pride month marks a riot led by a Black trans woman, who threw bricks at the cops and alongside other people of color, queer folks and leftists fought the police in the streets for days. But today, it has become not only a profit scheme for corporations, but a means to portray themselves as allies while covering up their complicity in LGBTQ+ oppression. Bank of America, for example, has presented itself as an ally of the queer community, all the while profiting from privatizing and seizing houses from people.

What Really Happened On Juneteenth

If you saw my column about Juneteenth posted here over the last few days, or a previous version on the website of Be’chol Lashon several years ago, or a video version currently presented by Be’chol Lashon, you would know I had bittersweet feelings about the history of the day. I no longer do. I am outraged by it. My change in emotion comes after learning from historian friends that the oft-repeated tale of Union soldiers arriving in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865 to inform enslaved African Americans that they were free is pure fiction. Not because they weren’t legally freed 2-½ months earlier when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Or technically freed 2-1/2 years before when President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring slavery null and void in areas under rebellion, very much including Texas.

Boycott Juneteenth 2022

I believe the reason there’s more disdain than pride is because it feels like we’re honoring a crime – a day commemorating the end of a 2 ½ year hostage negotiation where the captors were not punished yet instead compensated for the inconvenience of slavery ending. Our collective cases of injustice and reparations have been made with overwhelming evidence. Unfortunately, our moral victories aren’t moving the needle enough to ensure that our lives matter. It might be time to reject these trophies of courage and resilience while perpetrators of violence against us get slapped with feathers. No more ceremonies acknowledging injustices if it’s not accompanied by legislation that prevents it. As we have these national “enlightenment” moments of events like Tulsa, where are the laws that protect Black people from the impulses of that white rage repeating?

How Not To Celebrate Juneteenth

Juneteenth was largely a regional holiday celebrated by Black people in Texas and other southern states. It commemorates the events of June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston and announced that slavery ended as per General Order Number 3. "The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” It is an important event that ought to be remembered, but its true significance has been lost. Juneteenth has become the latest iteration of liberal capture of Black politics, opportunistic virtue signaling, and the intentional misrepresentation of America’s history. Corrupt and avaricious corporations honor Juneteenth and cynical politicians give it great attention.

Juneteenth: Over 500 Strikes In The Last Three Weeks

Longshoremen are going on strike at 29 ports across the West Coast. The UAW is planning to stop production on all assembly lines for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to honor George Floyd.  The strikes come as workers have walked off the job at over 500 employers in the last 3 weeks alone. The Washington State General Strike saw workers go on wildcat strikes at over 250 locations across the state according to our Strike Tracking Map, The #ShutDownStem strikes last week also saw scientists go on strike at 109 locations across the US.  If the size of these strikes last week is any indication, Juneteenth will likely be the largest day of strikes in more than a generation.
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