The realities of Emancipation: Part 1

Published 7:00 am Friday, October 16, 2015

One hundred and fifty three years ago, on Sept. 22, 1862, a great American issued an executive order which was implemented on Jan. 1, 1863. On that day President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. In a single stroke, it changed the federal legal status of more than 3 million enslaved person in the South from slave to free. (Because of the slow travel of the news in those days, it would be six months later before the news of freedom reached the South. Today we celebrate the historical arrival of this news and call it “Juneteenth.”)
I often wonder what was the reaction of these men and women who woke up one morning and found themselves to be “free.” I’m sure that the initial reaction was that of jubilation. But what happened after the reality set in?
My family and I had the privilege of meeting our great-grand mother who was born to slave parents.
She passed down unwritten stories about the aftermath of slavery.
These verbal stories were continually past down through my grandmother, then to her children; my mother, my aunt and my uncle and now to my generation and to my children and my grandchildren. I have always gained my courage, my independence and my pride from the ancestral history of my family.
These stories tell of a resilient people who without compromising the principles of courage and integrity, endured the trip from across the ocean. They survived the brutality and the horrific shackles of slavery, they witnessed hangings and lynching of family members and others all before, during and after the signing and ratification of the Emancipation Proclamation. What happened after the reality of freedoms set in?
They had rehearsed that moment of freedom a million times in their mind so that they knew just what to do when that moment came. However these moments were short lived, due to state laws and Jim Crow-ism.
Part two will come in the early part of November

By Lavearn Guy

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