Apr. 16, 2019

Emancipation Day in Washington DC: Thoughts Reflecting

There is one black historical events that is on my mind this afternoon that I would like to spend just a few minutes writing about. That event has confused my thought process for multiple decades. Today is Emancipation Day in Washington DC. On April 16, 1862, 3100 enslaved blacks were freed by Executive Order by President Abraham Lincoln. This event is celebrated annually in the District of Columbia. All public schools and government agencies in the District of Columbia Government are closed during this citywide celebration of freedom for those 3100 enslaved souls. 

 
Did you know that on April 16, 1862, there were almost 12,000 freed blacks in the nation's capital? Did you also know that the slaveholders of those 3100 slaves were given compensation for the manumission of the slaves that Lincoln freed by Executive Order? Yes, if they applied by July 15, 1862, to the federal government and were a loyal good standing Unionist these slaveholders could receive as much as $300.00 for each slave they freed. The sum paid to each former slaveowner was equivalent to almost $7500.00 dollars in buying power in 2018.  So, in essence, the only reparations paid by the United States Government to any party for the sins of slavery was paid to those District of Columbia slaveowners in 1862. Not one of those 3100 slaves was given a single solitary union penny for being held in forced served servitude by the United States Government. Yet, the slave owners, the perpetrators of this systemic system of vile injustice received compensation. 
 
Lincoln felt obligated to do this why? So that he could keep those so-called loyal Unionists happy and content. While Lincoln and the white society maintained the position of utter dominance over the black inhabitants of our nation's capital. I do have some difficulty understanding celebrating the total emancipation of the entire populace of the District of Columbia on April 16, 1862. Because of the fact that our emancipation provided a financial reward to the slaveowners in the form of reparations for the loss of their slaves. Yet, 157 years later no reparations have ever been paid to the enslaved people or their ancestors for the suffering while being enslaved? Damn, how is that possible? 
 
On the campaign trail in 2019 for the Democratic hopefuls running for the party's nomination for President. The issue of reparations for black ancestors of slaves has been addressed. My guess is that many, many people both white and black didn't know about white reparations being paid in 1862 for freeing those 3100 Black Washingtonians. Maybe, the conversation should start at that point and move forward. So that every April 16, 2021, becomes rather than just Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia but also Reparations Day for Americans of African Descent, and a check comes in the mail of $7,500.00 for every year formal and informal slavery existed in this country.