California Sesquincentennial Juneteenth Celebration

 

This proposed measure would declare June 19, 2015, California Juneteenth Sesquicentennial Celebration, throughout the State of California and that all Californians celebrate freedom from the vestiges of racial

discrimination and the abolition of all badges and incidents of slavery.

 

This proposed measure would urge all Californians to take this opportunity to reflect on the significant role that African-Americans have played in the history of the United States, and California in particular, and on the positive impact that people of African ancestry continue to make upon our great state.

 

WHEREAS, June 19, 2015, marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, and support preparations for a California Juneteenth Sesquincentennial Committee led by the California Black Agriculture Working Group to document, highlight, and showcase Slavery in California, Our Journey Towards Freedom.  

 

WHEREAS, Juneteenth, or June 19, 1865, is the date when General Gordon Granger, in Galveston, Texas, issued General Order No. 3, and began a 6 week campaign with 2000 Union troops, including US Colored Troops, throughout the State of Texas to enforce the end of slavery while securing the southern border of the United States during the French occupation of the Republic of Mexico.

 

WHEREAS, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, notifying the states in rebellion against the Union that if they did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863, he would declare their slaves forever free, a proclamation that was ignored by those states that seceded from the Union and that did not apply to those slave-holding states that did not rebel against the Union, resulting in about 8,000,000 slaves unaffected by the proclamation; and

 

WHEREAS, Juneteenth is observed as a legal holiday in Texas and Oklahoma and is celebrated annually in more than 200 cities in the United States, with California by statue, recognizing the 3rd Saturday in June as Juneteenth; and

 

WHEREAS, Juneteenth symbolizes for many African-Americans freedom and serves as a historical milestone reminding Americans of the triumph of the human spirit over the cruelty of slavery, honors those African-American ancestors who survived the inhumane institution of bondage, and demonstrates pride in the marvelous legacy of resistance and perseverance those ancestors left behind; and

 

WHEREAS, Freedom meant more than the right to travel freely; it meant the right to name one's self, to legalize marriages, to seek an education, to assemble and openly worship, and, for the first time, to have the laws of the United States protect the rights of Blacks; and

 

WHEREAS, Although the promise of emancipation gave freed men optimism for the future, few realized that slavery's bitter legacy was just beginning to unfold and that equality was to remain an elusive dream; and

 

WHEREAS, formerly enslaved human beings entered freedom under the worst possible conditions, most penniless and homeless with only the clothes on their backs, were, as Frederick Douglas said, "free, without roofs to cover them, or bread to eat, or land to cultivate, and as a consequence died in such numbers as to awaken the hope of their enemies that they would soon disappear"; and

 

WHEREAS, In the State of California, beginning with the California Constitution Convention in 1849 and until the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, December 18, 1865 ending chattel

slavery, people of African ancestry were uniquely singled out and disenfranchised by the Governor of California, California State Legislature and California Supreme Court, and

 

WHEREAS, Residents of California fought on both sides of the US Civil War, including US Colored Troops from California to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and upon ratification of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, the process to forcibly end slavery, left a bitter legacy that

continues to divide American society and still haunts our country today; and

 

WHEREAS, African-Americans celebrate the Fourth of July in honor of American Independence Day, but history reminds us that people of African ancestry still remained enslaved when the United States obtained its independence and many of the Founding Fathers owned enslaved human beings; and

 

WHEREAS, According to historian John Hope Franklin, "the Founding Fathers (by allowing slavery) set the stage for every succeeding generation of Americans to apologize, compromise and temporize on those principles of liberty that were supposed to be the very foundation of our system of government and way of life ... that is why this nation tolerated and, indeed, nurtured the cultivation of racism that has been as insidious as it has been pervasive"; and

 

WHEREAS, The legacy of racism has grown into perhaps the greatest internal threat that this country faces, as John Hope Franklin aptly put it, "slavery weakened America's moral authority"; and

 

WHEREAS, Despite living under the most inhumane conditions known to humankind, Blacks contributed everything from agricultural inventions, to medical breakthroughs and to music; crafted incredible sculptures, designed beautiful buildings, and helped build a nation; and preserved a culture and succeeded in passing down a legacy of music, language, food, religion, and a lesson in survival; and

 

WHEREAS, Slavery is teaching America a lesson of cooperation demonstrated by the fact that Blacks and Whites together created an antislavery movement that ultimately succeeded, fought and died together to force an end to slavery, and have worked throughout the nation's history for social justice; and

 

WHEREAS, While the painful memory of slavery makes it difficult for many to celebrate Juneteenth, it is the positive legacy of perseverance and cooperation that makes it impossible to ignore; now, therefore, be it

  

Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, the Assembly thereof concurring, That the Legislature of the State of California hereby declares Juneteenth, 150th Year Celebration of Freedom,  throughout the State of California, that all Californians celebrate freedom from the vestiges of racial discrimination and the abolition of all badges and incidents of slavery; and be it further

  

Resolved, That the Legislature urges all Californians to take this opportunity to reflect and quantify the significant role that African-Americans have played in the history of the United States, and California in particular, and on the positive impact that African-Americans continue to make on society; and be it further    

 

Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the State Library, the State Archives, the State Department of Education, and the author for appropriate distribution.

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