Black History Fun Fact Friday – Juneteenth

I don’t celebrate holidays (this includes Kwanzaa and Juneteenth. How can I celebrate the end of slavery when we are still in captivity? Maybe I’ll celebrate it next year, the marking of our 400 years in this land.) Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be right (in keeping with my Black History origin traditions on this blog) if we didn’t explore what this day is and what makes it so special for many Black Americans; many replacing their 4th of July celebrations with Juneteenth instead. It is still an important part of history to remember and I don’t believe we’ve ever covered it on this blog so here goes.

According to the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln January 1, 1863, the proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” By rebellious states it was referring to those states that had seceded or withdrawn from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control. The freedom it promised also depended upon United States military victory. In brief, Emancipation only applied to those slaves who lived near Union lines.

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News of the supposed emancipation did not spread as quickly as the movies would have us to believe. Many slave-owners packed up their belongings and their slaves and moved to Texas in mass. “Since the capture of New Orleans in 1862, slave owners in Mississippi, Louisiana and other points east had been migrating to Texas to escape the Union Army’s reach.” (Henry Louis Gates Jr.) In a hurried re-enactment of the original Middle Passage, more than 150,000 slaves had made the trek west, according to historian Leon Litwack in his book Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of SlaveryAs one former slave he quotes recalled,”‘It looked like everybody in the world was going to Texas.’’ For the next two years, slave owners and the enslaved would live removed from the updates of the war and slavery would go on, business as usual.

And so, when General Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas, on June 19th to lead the Union occupation force, he had to deal with ongoing slavery in defiance of the Emancipation Proclamation. To fix this, he issued the following order:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

This second proclamation, specifying that all slaves were free, is the foundation to the celebration of Juneteenth, a combining of June and the nineteenth when the order was issued. However, it is also important to know that just like the first proclamation, this order did not exactly free the slaves.

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“There is much evidence to suggest that southern whites—especially Confederate parolees—perpetrated more acts of violence against newly freed bondspeople in Texas than in other states,” writes historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner in an essay titled “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Memory.” “Between the Neches and Sabine rivers and north to Henderson,” she continues, “reports showed that blacks continued in a form of slavery, intimidated by former Confederate soldiers still in uniform and bearing arms.” Murder, lynching, and harassment were common. “You could see lots of Negroes hanging from trees in Sabine bottom right after freedom,” reported one freed slave, “They would catch them swimming across Sabine River and shoot them.”

Still, Blacks celebrated their freedom with the first official Juneteenth event taking place in 1866 where they read the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and praised Abraham Lincoln as the great liberator. (I find this odd). The celebrations continued until coming to a halt with the institution of Jim Crow, laws that essentially put Blacks back into a form of slavery where we were fully disenfranchised and outside of the law. Convict Leasing is a great example of this. After the Civil War and the end of slavery, Southern states, who had amassed great wealth from slavery, found their economy in shambles.

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They had to figure out how to keep a slave-like system going and like sharecropping, convict leasing was another answer. Black Codes and Pig Laws, unfairly penalized poor African Americans for crimes such as stealing a pig. It was also a crime to be unemployed. These laws could be imposed on Black men easily, sending them to jail and thus former slave owners turned “entrepreneurs” could lease them to various companies that would work them to death and treat them like they were slaves. This made the states tons of money. In 1883, about 10 percent of Alabama’s total revenue was derived from convict leasing. In 1898, nearly 73 percent of total revenue came from this same source. Death rates among leased convicts were approximately 10 times higher than the death rates of prisoners in non-lease states. In 1873, for example, 25 percent of all black leased convicts died.

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Texas Juneteenth Day Celebration, 1900 (Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)

Juneteenth didn’t make a full resurgence until The Civil Rights Movement when Blacks began to celebrate it in full again. And while many Blacks have celebrated it for centuries, it still did not become an official Holiday until it was made a Texas state holiday in 1980, and it wasn’t until 1997 that Congress recognized June 19th as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” after pressure from a collection of groups like the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage and National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation.


For more Black History Fun Facts, be sure to visit the BHFFF Page HERE.

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The Greenbriar Mall – Pick-up Your Copy of I am Soul Today!

I am Soul is now available at The Medu Bookstore at the Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta. Medu means “power of the word” and is the second largest black-owned bookstore in Atlanta. They called me last week to say that they would like to carry my book in their store.

It has passed their review process which makes me very proud particularly because these are professional reviewers who have to ultimately vote on the book before it is accepted into the store. This means that a book must meet industry standards. I now share shelf space with the likes of Gabrielle Union, Jenifer Lewis, Tamika Newhouse and Urban Fiction power couple Ashley and Jaquavis Coleman. Of course, I still have to sell (lol) but I am excited about it nonetheless.

This makes the second store in Georgia to carry one of my books. If you are in the Atlanta-land area, remember that I still need your support to stay on the shelves. Be sure to stop in and request your copy. Again, the book is titled I am Soul by Yecheilyah. My name is pronounced e-SEE-li-yah. I am also looking to increase reviews for this book. If you’d like to read it in consideration for a review, let me know. (It’s a collection of poetry.)

Also, don’t forget. I want to see you at the Atlanta African American Book Festival event next month! Not only am I a vendor with an author table where you can support my books, I am also a volunteer for the event so I’ll be kinda all over the place and I’ll be looking for YOU!

 

“Savor the taste of your triumphs today. Don’t just swallow the moment whole without digesting what has actually happened here.”

– Dr. Chadwick Boseman

Yecheilyah Needs Your Help

Hey guys,

Soooo….lol

I need a little bit of help and, you know what they say, “closed mouths don’t get fed.”

I am looking to increase my reviews.

I don’t have to tell you how important book reviews are for Indie Authors, we’ve been over this a million times. But, in case you don’t already know, book reviews help to enhance book sales, helps readers to make buying decisions, and helps with an authors ranking. Realistically, an Indie Author should strive for at least 10+ Amazon Customer reviews which is why I am looking to spice up my up my ARC Team.

ARC is short for Advanced Reader Copy and I am looking to add more readers to my team who are interested in reading Black History, Literary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Poetry, Inspirational Self-Help or Women’s Fiction. I am looking for readers who are willing to actively participate in reading my books and offering feedback. Specifically, I am in need of more reviews for Revolution, book two in The Nora White Story. While this is book two in a series, it can be read as a standalone. Furthermore, book one is available now on Amazon at just 99cents if you’d like to read it first CLICK HERE. (If you sign up you can get both books free.) Either way, I am in need of more reviews all around.

If you would like to help me, you can SIGN-UP HERE.

Once I see you have signed up, I will send you a Kindle copy of book one or book two (your choice) of The Nora White Story. My only request is that you leave an honest review of the book on Amazon. You are not required to, but this team is specifically set up for me to receive feedback so my hope is that you will both read and review (Readers who sign-up agree to review or email me feedback.)

About Revolution

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When Nora White is drugged by her friend she is forced to deal with the harsh reality of life in the North. She meets Keisha and the women catch a ride to The Den, a gambling and numbers hole-in-the-wall in Jacobsville New York. Unlike the upper echelon of Harlem, Nora’s new friends are hustlers but down to Earth and feels more like family. They take her to Liberty Hall where she is introduced to Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.).

Meanwhile, Nora has no idea her father has been arrested and back home Molly is hanging on by a thread. When the community discovers the truth of the alleged crime they devise a way to get Gideon out of jail but their actions could mean life or death for everyone involved. Will Nora come to her senses and return home in time to help the family or will her naiveté lead her astray once again?

About Renaissance

Nora White

When seventeen-year-old Nora White successfully graduates High School in 1922 Mississippi and is College-bound, everyone is overjoyed and excited. Everyone except Nora. She dreams of Harlem, Cotton Clubs, Fancy Dresses, and Langston Hughes. For years, she’s sat under Mr. Oak, the big oak tree on the plush green grass of her families five acres, and daydreamed of The Black Mecca.

The ambitious, young Nora is fascinated by the prospect of being a famous writer in The Harlem Renaissance and decides she doesn’t want to go to College. Despite her parent’s staunch protest, Nora finds herself in Jacobsville, New York, a small town forty-five minutes outside of Harlem.

Shocked by their daughter’s disappearance, Gideon and Molly White are plagued with visions of the deadly south, like the brutal lynching of Gideon’s sister years ago. As the couple embarks on a frightening and gut-wrenching search for Nora, they are each stalked by their own traumatic past. Meanwhile, Nora learns that the North is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Again, if you are interested in reading any of these books you can SIGN-UP HERE and thanks so much!

(Serious readers with time to read only)

(pps. If you are here for poetry, let me know you would like to read and review my latest poetry book and I will add you to the appropriate ARC group.)

Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2) By Yecheilyah Ysrayl [Book Review]

Thank you Rachel for reading and reviewing. Most appreciated. (Lol at your favorite quote 😂)

Rachel Poli

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

Book Review: Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2) by Yecheilyah Ysrayl | Historical Fiction | Creative Writing | Books | Reading | Book Blogging | RachelPoli.com

I received a free ARC of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

When Nora White is drugged by her friend she is forced to deal with the harsh reality of life in the North. She meets Keisha and the women catch a ride to The Den, a gambling and numbers hole-in-the-wall in Jacobsville New York. Unlike the upper echelon of Harlem, Nora’s new friends are hustlers but down to Earth and feels more like family. They take her to Liberty Hall where she is introduced to Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.).

Meanwhile, Nora has no idea her father has been arrested and back home Molly is hanging on by a thread. When…

View original post 502 more words

You’re Invited

The inaugural  Atlanta African American Book Festival is FREE and OPEN to the PUBLIC and will take place on Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Georgia State University. Over 70 authors will convene in Atlanta to present their work to the Atlanta community. Author categories include fiction, non-fiction, romance, YA fiction, middle-grade fiction, and children’s picture books. Journalists, editors, publishers, literary critics, and scholars from various fields will be present. Panel discussions and workshops will engage festival attendees in topics concerning literary industry tips, civil disobedience, activism, emotional and spiritual well-being, restorative justice, and health and wealth. Children’s activities include a story corner and festival dance floor.

I will be one of many authors in attendance and I would be honored to have your support at my table. Since I did not have a launch signing or gathering for Revolution, I’d like to use this as an opportunity for a post-launch celebration. You will have the chance to purchase signed paperback copies of my two most recent books (and not just mine but other authors too), take pictures, take part in workshops, and meet industry professionals. Again, attendance at the festival is FREE so you’ll just need to make it here (food is not allowed inside the venue but there will be food trucks on the outside). This is not just an entertainment event but we also seek to implement community programming that promotes black literary arts and family sustainability within our community. To check out my AAA blog feature, click here.

Black Indie Readers: African American Historical Fiction is Important Too

Kanye West, Waffle-House, Childish Gambino, Roseanne, and elderly Black women being manhandled by police is but a snippet of what’s going on. I can turn on my television or more precisely, open my computer, and see a similar scene as a 1960s protest march. I see people sitting in again at restaurants, I see people marching down the streets, I see cops fighting young black boys, and I hear of black bodies being found hanging from trees again (often ruled as suicides.)

This is America.

They say a people without knowledge of its past are doomed to repeat it. I wonder how many of us realize that the past is repeating itself? And I am reminded this is why I write the kinds of stories that I write and why I think Black Historical Fiction is important (and also maybe a tad bit underrated). Often, I see Romance, Urban Fiction and Street Lit praised as the epitome of Black Literature among many Self-Publishers / Indie Authors and Indie readers. But let’s not forget that black history is important too, and should not be left out of the Indie Author revolution.

After my most recent book release, I was amazed at how many people (Israelites, so-called African Americans, Blacks) didn’t know who Marcus Garvey was, what the Universal Negro Improvement Association was, or could make the Marcus and Malcolm connection in the book. (More on this later but briefly, Malcolm X father was a follower of Marcus Garvey and Malcolm’s nickname was Red among other names. I named Nora’s boyfriend after Malcolm X in his honor and gave him some of his characteristics.)

I know that many of us have been awakened to the true knowledge of who we are and have reclaimed parts of our lost, ancient and biblical heritage. We are waking up in droves and understanding the important role that identity plays in the state of Black America today. I am talking about the Hebrew Israelite movement and the number of people returning to the bible as a source, not of religion, but of black history and instruction on how to live on the earth. But that does mean we should toss aside our history in this land as unimportant since it has all played a role in who we are and where we stand today.

To be a true educator, you must first be educated and with extensive knowledge of what you’re teaching and if this is history, it’s even more critical to understand it all. (I am no one special and I don’t know everything. I am only repeating what I have already told myself about how important it is that I study history. All of it.)

Yes, it’s important to know who Moses was, King Solomon, Queen Esther, King David, and all the prophets, prophetesses and servants (who were all Black). But, it’s also important to know who Mansa Musa was and his influence in Timbuktu, Queen Yaa Asantewaa (Phonetic spelling Yah asante wah), Haitian Revolutionary, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Hannibal, Nat Turner, Marcus Garvey, Ida B. Wells and so on. These are the people whose shoulders we stand on and knowing their stories are still important. As well as other facts. If we talk about the European Slave Trade let’s also talk about Islamic slavery. If we talk about white slave owners, let’s also discuss Jewish and Native American slave owners as well.

History is important in general because if you don’t know what happened before, how can you properly arm yourself against ensuring that the bad things do not happen again? You cannot focus on repeating only the good things if you don’t know what is good.

Dear Black Indie Readers, African American Historical Fiction is important too.

“Once you change your philosophy you change your thought pattern. Once you change your thought pattern, you change your attitude. Once you change your attitude, it changes your behavior pattern. And then you go on into some action.” – Malcolm X

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey
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For more Black History Fun Facts, be sure to visit the Black History Fun Fact Friday page and to follow this blog for Black History all year around! Revolution, part 2 in The Nora White Story is also now available on Amazon. Free with Kindle Unlimited.

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Anna Murray Douglass

Today, we are taking a look at a woman whose husband we know well. Frederick Douglass is well-known but his first wife is not. For the sake of time, I am combining sources from various articles since I have not had the chance to put something together for you this week. Enjoy.


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Anna Murray Douglass

Frederick and Anna met in 1838, when he still went by the surname Bailey and she by Murray. The daughter of enslaved parents in rural Maryland around 1813, Anna was the first of her siblings to be born free after her parents were manumitted (set free). She lived with her parents until the age of 17, at which point she headed for Baltimore and found work as a domestic helper. Over the years she managed to earn and save money; the vibrant community of more than 17,000 free blacks in the Maryland city organized black churches and schools despite repressive laws restricting their freedoms. When she met Frederick—historians disagree on the when and where their acquaintance occurred, but it may have been in attending the same church—she was financially prepared to start a life with him. But first, he needed freedom.

By borrowing a freedman’s protection certificate from a friend and wearing the disguise of a sailor sewn by Anna, Frederick made his way to New York City by train (possibly spending Anna’s money to buy the ticket, says historian Leigh Fought). Once there, he sent for Anna and they were married in the home of abolitionist David Ruggles. According to Rosetta, Anna brought nearly everything the couple needed to begin their life together: a feather bed with pillows and linens; dishes with cutlery; and a full trunk of clothing for herself.

– Source: The Hidden History of Anna Murray Douglass

In 1837, Frederick met a free Black woman, Anna Murray, who was born in 1813. Her parents had been freed before she was born, and Anna worked as a laundress and a housekeeper. Anna used her savings and sold a bed to pay for train tickets for Frederick, which he used to escape to freedom. She also sewed a sailor outfit for him, which he wore as a disguise. Fredrick had tried to escape before, but it was not until Anna helped him that he escaped successfully.

Once Frederick got to New York, Anna joined him and they married and moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts. They had five children together. When they moved to Rochester, New York, she turned their home into an Underground Railroad stop, providing shelter for runaway slaves en route to Canada.

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Frederick Douglass

As Frederick became more involved in activism, their relationship became more strained. Anna could barely read and write, and felt out of place among Frederick’s friends. His friends, most of whom were highly educated and intellectual, openly looked down on Anna (to his credit, he vigorously defended her against any who suggested she was not a worthy wife). Anna enjoyed being part of the Black community in New Bedford, but in 1847 Frederick moved the family, and as his circle of friends widened, hers diminished. Anna was also tormented by rumors that Frederick had affairs during his many travels. On two occasions, Frederick had women he was rumored to be sleeping with move into Anna’s house, causing controversy between the couple and within Frederick’s political community.

-Source: Real Life Romance: Frederick Douglass, Anna Murray, and Helen Pitts

While Frederick began his climb as an abolitionist orator, Anna cared for their children, born between 1839 and 1849: Rosetta, Lewis, Frederick, Charles, and Annie. In 1847, they moved to Rochester, New York, where Frederick began publishing his newspaper, the North Star.  The gulf between Anna and Frederick widened over the years; she could barely read and write and was rarely a part of his activist life and growing circle of prominent white and black abolitionist colleagues.  After the death of their youngest child, Annie, in 1860, Anna’s health steadily deteriorated. She died on August 4, 1882 at their home, Cedar Hill, across from Washington, D.C.  She was carried back to Rochester, New York, where she was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.

– Source: The Black Past Remembered

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Helen Pitts Douglass

One year after Anna’s death, Frederick remarried. His second wife was Helen Pitts. She was born in 1838. Her parents were abolitionists, and she was an ardent abolitionist and suffragette. In 1880, her family moved next door to the Douglass family, and Helen assisted Frederick with his work. She also worked as a clerk and co-edited a women’s rights magazine.

Their marriage was quite a scandal. Helen was white and twenty years younger than Frederick. His children felt the marriage disrespected their mother. Frederick and Helen’s friends were shocked because they felt the marriage was too sudden and because they were worried about the race and age differences. Helen’s family cut off contact with her altogether, and their local society was appalled that a black man and white woman were married at all.

Helen Pitts’ response: “Love came to me, and I was not afraid to marry the man I loved because of his color.”

Frederick’s response: “This proves I am impartial. My first wife was the color of my mother and the second, the color of my father.”

-Source: Real Life Romance: Frederick Douglass, Anna Murray, and Helen Pitts


EC thoughts: I feel kind of sad for Anna and I can’t help but to wonder why Frederick, intelligent as he was, did not teach her to read and write. Did she not want to learn? Or did he not want to teach her? We can only speculate.