July 2, 1964, Is That The Day Of Black America's Jubilee?
Frederick Douglass spoke so eloquently in his speech in 1841 about what the 4th of July meant to the American slave. Held in bondage against his and her will without any rights of human respect. We were categorized as property. The same as the hog, cow, sheep, chicken, horse, and the work mule with less respect than that given to the house pet be that a dog or a cat. So today I ask a different question is the 4th of July of any significance to a black person in 2017? Do we look back to January 1, 1863, the date that the Emancipation Proclamation was implemented by the union states freeing all blacks held in bondage in the Confederate southern states, but not those blacks held in bondage in the border union states? Do we as a people celebrate the date of the ratification of the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery throughout the nation, December 6, 1865? Is that our date to celebrate our freedom and independence from bondage? Certainly, before that date we as people were property, and deemed not worthy of any rights that any white person need respect. You certainly cannot say with any justification that the date July 4, 1776, has any significant meaning when the overwhelming majority of our people were held in chains in this newly formed nation on that specific date. Even when the initial Constitution was written it determined our value as 3/5 a person, so was 60% of our personhood free? I don’t think so we were indeed 100% enslaved if we were held in bondage. Do we look ahead the passage of the 14th and 15th amendments as the dates that secured our freedom in these United States; July 8, 1868, for the 14th amendment; and February 3, 1870, for the 15th amendment. Certainly, before these two significant changes to the Constitution guaranteeing equal protection and voting rights we as a people were not full citizens. OK, then the day of the black people's ultimate liberty and freedom is February 3, 1870, that is our 4th of July, correct? Hold up, something happened that reversed the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, they were ignored after the Compromise of 1877, and a new form of slavery was introduced in most every sector of America. It was also enforced by a Supreme Court decision that mandated the principle of “separate but equal”. That decision was handed down on May 18, 1896, and it effectively denied Black Americans equal protection under the law as well as terminating in so many southern states the provisions of the 15th amendment that gave blacks the right to vote. So now we as a group of denied citizens are in a liberty and freedom celebration quandary. How do we celebrate any of the dates especially July 4, 1776, when the very system that supposedly gave us rights of full citizenship has determined by the highest court in the land our unworthiness of those rights?
So now we must fast forward to July 26, 1948, the date that President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 which committed the nation to integrate the segregated armed military forces of the United States. Do we celebrate that date as the ultimate date that we secured our liberty and freedom? Is that the date of ultimate jubilation? I mean the President by Executive Order mandated this action, but, it was simply an Executive Order not a legislative, or constitutional decree. So, no that isn’t the date we can celebrate our freedom from oppression and suppression of our rights as citizens. Especially considering the fact that throughout the southern states and as well as many northern cities blacks were suffering from actions of racism that bordered and included criminal acts of terror simply because of the color of their skins. So do we move ahead 6 years, May 17, 1954, when the Earl Warren Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public schools was a violation of the 14th Amendment and therefore unconstitutional? The Brown vs. Topeka, Kansas, Board of Education ruling nullified May 18, 1896, Plessey vs. Ferguson ruling which legalized separate but equal facilities between the races. So is May 17, 1954, our day of jubilee, the day that we as a people certainly can look back on as date that fully certified our rights for full citizenship? Did we miss the date this year? It has already passed and I didn’t get one cookout invitation, damn. Hold up now. That particular ruling from the highest court in the land was ignored by every southern state in the nation. Some states when as far as creating private segregated white academies funded with taxpayer monies to shield their children from going to school with children of color. Hell, one school district in now suburban Washington DC, Prince William County Public Schools, closed down it's entire school system so as to evade these judicial ruling. Many of the major confrontations of the civil rights period were initiated by this specific ruling. So, no it isn’t May 17, 1954. Well today July 2, 1964, the Civil Rights Bill was enacted and signed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. On this date 53 years ago all rights of citizenship excluding voting rights were to be extended to people of African American descent throughout the United States of America. This supposedly ended the fight for civil rights that had begun as early as the 1870’s when the rights of black people were being taken away liberally without any legal recourse. So is Sunday, July 2, 2017, the actual date of the celebration that harkens back to that July signing of the Civil Rights Bill? Is that the date of our jubilee? Is that the date that recognizes our full and complete citizenship? Can we strike up the band, and let those high steppers and dancing ebony princesses perform in our parade to celebrate freedom? That has to be the date for didn’t it come from passage of both Houses of Congress? Didn’t it have the seal of approval from the Executive Branch? Didn’t it pass the legal mustard of the judicial branch of government? I can hear the firecrackers popping, isn’t that George Clinton and Sly Stone recounting good times on stage? Isn’t that Bey-Bey and Jay-Z singing God Bless America?
Hold up now, hold up, you gotta hold up. Didn’t all the other dates of promise have those signatures as well? Why are the jail cells filled up with our black brothers, and sisters? Why are the graveyards littered with the bodies of our babies? Who created this system of mass incarceration? Wasn’t crack introduced into our cities after 1964? Why are so many of our black males illiterate? Why is there such an income gap inequity in our nation between black and white? Why are our urban cities in such a cycle of blight with much of that destruction since the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Bills of 1964, and 1965? What I am saying today, this holiday weekend is that for many Black Americans the day of Jubilee is still in the far off distance, and July 4, 1776’s promises have never been fulfilled. So Tuesday, July 4, 2017, is simply a contrived day of broken promises and false hopes of full democracy and citizenship for Black Americans. Unless, of course, you can hit a 28-footer and have a mean crossover?