Juneteenth in 2020 is a pivotal moment in the push for self-determination by the descendants of Afrikans in North America. The celebration marks our freedom from bondage 155 years ago in the aftermath of a brutal civil war between the armies of the Confederacy and what was left of the United States. What is seldom mentioned historically is our role in our freedom from the holocaust of enslavement. The Underground Railroad, clandestine freedom fighting groups like the Knights of Liberty and Black military regiments that fought for the Union were key to liberating captive Afrikan men, women and children.
Our freedom in America was fleeting, lasting only 12 years from 1865 to 1877. Despite the fact that it was proven that we could govern and handle our own affairs, electing thousands of public officials, forming communities, launching businesses, building schools and owning 16 million acres of land; there was a violent backlash spearheaded by white militias. Ku Klux Klan and other vigilante groups reversed the gains of reconstruction. Segregation, Jim Crow laws, sharecropping and contract prison labor spawned conditions resembling slavery. We responded by waging a restrained, non-violent movement of civil disobedience, boycotts, demonstrations, marches, drives for voting and civil rights, campaigns to end segregation and prohibit discrimination.
Black people still battle poverty, inadequate schools, redlining, attacks on affirmative action, health disparities, police killings, biased criminal prosecution and mass incarceration. The murders of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis in 2012; Michael Brown, John Crawford III, Eric Garner Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald and Tamir Rice in 2014; nine innocent Black people gunned down by racist Dylann Roof in a church and Jamar Clark in 2015; and Philando Castille and Alton Sterling in 2016. All of this combined
fueled pent-up frustration with state-sanctioned terrorizing of the black community. In retaliation for police shootings Micah Johnson killed five white Dallas, TX police officers, wounded 9 other white officers and two civilians. Gavin Long followed suit in Baton Rouge killing three police officers and wounding three. Both Johnson and Long died confronting police. Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD. erupted in flames as the Black Lives Matter movement seared itself into the public’s consciousness.
Lulled into complacency during the Obama presidency we were blindsided by the white backlash that placed avowed racist Donald Trump in the White House. His corrupt presidency signaled the unleashing of supremacist violence that has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Black men and women each year since 2016. Indifference to the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus on people of color by Trump, his financial backers and red state governors has laid bare once again how little white America cares about the lives of Black people.
Gun-toting whites swarmed state legislatures complaining about pandemic measures limiting their white privilege since it appeared that people of color were bearing the brunt of COVID-19 deaths.
The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis, MN cop Derek Chauvin and three other members of the blue gang, Breonna Taylor’s execution by a Louisville, KY SWAT mob and the police killings of Sean Monterrosa in Vallejo, CA, and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, GA, led to protests, riots and clashes between enraged citizens and thug cops in hundreds of cities across the country and around the globe.
Police have been recorded using brutal tactics to repress crowds legitimately protesting out of control police forces. White vigilante groups dubbed the boogaloo boys seek to foment enough chaos to trigger a race war, while cooler heads are pursuing much needed reforms in policing and criminal justice. The political will now exists for slashing bloated public safety budgets to reallocate that money into addressing the root causes of crime and violence in our communities—rampant economic, political and social inequality.
Just as the anti-war movement of the 1960s coalesced with the civil rights and Black power movements to force change in America, the Black Lives Matter, Black open carry groups, progressives, Black elected officials, anti-racism, LGBTQ and anti-fascist movements are aligned against repressive police, voter suppression, gerrymandering, vigilantes, the alt-right, conservatives, white militias and 2nd Amendment groups. We are witnessing a revolutionary paradigm shift in American society that is gaining momentum. Smart phones, computers and the internet are today’s organizing tools supporting our movement toward self-reliance. We are harnessing this technology to leverage cooperative economics and realize true unity in the Afrikan diaspora. We must remain diligent, taking full advantage of this historic time. It is crucial that we do not allow this opportunity to escape. The ability to control our own destiny is within our grasp, we owe it to our ancestors to reach for it.
Suggested headline: Together We Will Win!