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How Families Reacted to Juneteenth

From Audio: 2:18 What is Juneteenth?

Duration: 04:44
Jasmine Bradshaw reflects on the emotions and reactions that accompanied the Juneteenth announcement in Galveston, Texas.
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Jasmine Bradshaw reflects on the emotions and reactions that accompanied the Juneteenth announcement in Galveston, Texas. Some newly freed families decided to stay where they were, some decided to leave—making their way north to new lives. Others traveled back to the South in search of missing family members.
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I get chills every time. I think about this day because can you imagine the excitement of listening to someone say that people who have been in bondage for their entire lives for generations are finally free. I can hardly think about it without getting emotional because I just imagine what that must have felt like in the power of that great moment. So that is why we celebrate Juneteenth on June 19 every year we get together to celebrate the freedom of all people in the United States. If you think about July four, our independence day here in the US, we we're not all free. There were so many people who didn't have independence on that day. So it's really important that we recognize the day that is true independence for all. So after the announcement is made, they are rejoicing and they are praying together and it is just an amazing sight. And the people who were formerly enslaved had different reactions to this news. And I want to just pause for a second and remind you that when we are talking about slavery, we use the word Enslaved instead of slaves. And I explain all of that and episode three, talking to your Children about slavery. And I'll put that link in the show notes, but it's really important that we are recognizing their full humanity as human beings, as mothers, as teachers, as amazing ingenious survivors. So we want to make sure that we're talking about them as human beings rather than the condition of slavery that they were forced to live under. So anyway, the people who were formerly enslaved, they had different reactions to this news. Some of them would stay on their plantations because there were no guidelines for what to do next. There was no handbook of, here's what you do now that you're free and it was all they knew. So they decided to stay and explore what does this relationship look like between employer and employee, which they will soon find out looks absolutely terrible. Some of them decide to leave and travel to the north. They don't know where they're going, they have nowhere to go, but they decide I'm going to get out of here and see what's out there. And a lot of them would go to other Southern states because they were looking for their family members who they had been separated from. So during enslavement, people would be separated from their families all the time, mothers, Children would be taken away. Um, husband and wives would be separated because they didn't recognize their marriages as legal. And it was just atrocious to separate families in this way. And so what they were doing was looking for each other, they're like, we're finally free, let's reunite. There were even advertisements that they would put in the newspaper looking for their family. So there was a really popular newspaper called the christian recorder and it was put out by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the A. M. E. Church. And this newspaper was so widely circulated around the black community that people thought, well if I'm looking for somebody, they might be able to see my ad in the paper, which what that sink in for a minute. Can you imagine being a mother and looking for your child through an ad in the newspaper as if you're looking for a job or looking for a roommate? Like putting an advertisement in the newspaper so that you can find your child. Uh It's just it's heavy. I wanted to read you one of these ads so that you can hear what it sounds like for a parent, a set of parents to be looking for their Children in the newspaper, It says information wanted concerning mary and Elizabeth bailey. The name Bailey was that of their master who lived in Saline county Missouri in 1860 or 18 60 one. The father's name was Nathan Howard bailey, the mother's name, America's bailey. These Children were sold south during the year in which there was so much talk of the emancipation of slaves. They were sold in what was termed down the river. Any information will be thankfully received at the Union Memorial Church and then it goes on to give the address. So this one just broke my heart because they know that their Children were taken away from them and sold down the river just a few years before the emancipation proclamation was signed. So this is just so hard because they were so close to being able to be freed together. But think about all the families who were separated long before that
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