“Juneteenth is a commemoration marking one of the historic steps that led to the abolition of slavery. The events are an integral part of the struggle against racism and national oppression of African American people, and supporters of our socialist campaign will join in the local celebrations. Everyone should celebrate Juneteenth!” said presidential candidate Gloria La Riva.
“We will be with the community at parks and civic centers, participating and enjoying the festivities. At the same time, it will be a time of sharing, networking and supporting the community’s struggles represented there.”
Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of General Order Number 3, read in Texas on June 19, 1865 by Federal Union Troops who proclaimed the enforcement of the total emancipation of all the slaves—two and a half years after the original declaration by President Lincoln. This announcement was directed at the southern states which had seceded and which, still after the Civil War ended, resisted ending slavery. The quarter of a million people still enslaved in Texas at the time were shocked by the delayed news and many rejoiced and left the plantations in mass.
Speaking to the origins of Juneteenth La Riva said “It began with spontaneous street celebrations as news spread of the end of slavery, the most brutal system of oppression in history.” She continued to explain, “We can never forget that in 1860 there were about 4 million slaves owned by a small group of rich white families… they were beaten and murdered and raped in the thousands, and they had zero legal right to challenge any of this… it’s hard to imagine how good it must have felt to hear the news of your freedom”.
“What happened after the end of slavery though?” La Riva questioned. “As soon as Black people had won their freedom the former slaveholders began a campaign to criminalize Black people and find a way to force them back under their domination… They arrested thousands of Black people on trumped up and petty crimes and put them on chain gangs, they used debt peonage and organized white supremacist paramilitary groups to terrorize the people… The federal government abandoned the cause for Black freedom, the supreme court upheld the legality of segregation and Jim Crow raised his ugly face over the region”.
Speaking to the legacy of the Black liberation and civil rights movements she stated that “Generations of Black freedom fighters emerged in the United States to fight this new system of wage-slavery… Sharecropping unions, underground Black resistance organizations sprang up across the South. Later the Freedom Riders and civil rights movement ultimately destroyed Jim Crow and left an indelible legacy for oppressed people around the world”.
La Riva concluded that “This spirit of resistance never went away, it’s alive and well today because Black people still are not free…. Today there are more Black people in prisons than there were slaves in 1850, poverty and joblessness disproportionately affect Black communities, racist organizations are growing, and cops are killing innocent young Black men at an alarming rate.
“Today the Black Lives Matter movement is fighting all across the country, and young people of all nationalities are standing together, they are demanding an end to racism and for the same freedom we have been fighting for more than 150 years after the first Juneteenth… Our campaign is in solidarity with all the freedom fighters, we call on the next generation to celebrate Juneteenth by taking to the streets and fighting for what’s right!”