June 19th is the Day the Slaves Were Freed

By Charles Fisher and Randy Fisher @HHSYC

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JuneteenthProcCFRFYes indeed today we celebrate Juneteenth, the official day when African-American slaves were freed from the worst modern day humanitarian crime ever inflicted upon an ethnic group.  This global crime took place over the period of 400 years.  Even after the slaves were freed there were many shameless policies enacted to keep them in bondage.  Some of those polices are still in place today but are cloaked so you would never know. 2013 marks the 148th year of Juneteenth and the 150th year anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, a policy that opened the door to free the slaves making this a very special year.

One of the policies that still has a lot of influence on lives of blacks is the passage of the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime.  As we mentioned in our previous Juneteenth story America is 5% of the world’s population but incarcerates 25% of the world’s prisoners—more than any industrialized nation.  There are over 7.2 million under some form of criminal justice supervision.


JuneteenthChainsThe Prison Industrial Complex

What can we do to address this age-old problem?  Many believe the antidote to crime is education and economic development; it’s just that simple.  If we can improve our schools and provide jobs for the disadvantaged we would see a huge drop in the crime rate in black and poor communities.  It is up to us as a community to use this day as a platform to address the problems that provide legal slaves for the “Prison Industrial Complex.”

If we were betting men, we would invest in the Private Prison Business.  That is where the money is at and the only way it will change is if we come up with some viable solutions to address the social injustices that were caused by slavery.  When an ethnic group is robbed of its history, pride, religion, economics, culture and self-respect it will take a concentrated effort by everyone to right the wrongs that are the root causes behind the problem.  What happened to blacks very few could have survived, but this is no time to point fingers and take part in the “blame game.”  We must acknowledge as a nation what happened and work to find solutions to the problem.

Support from the NYS Senate and Governor

Over the last several months we have worked with several groups that wanted to use this day to build a foundation to educate and empower poor and disadvantaged youth and young adults.  With that being said the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council requested a Resolution from the NYS Senate declaring June 19th as Juneteenth day in the State of New York.  To support the Senate Resolution NYS Governor Cuomo issued a Proclamation proclaiming June 19th as Juneteenth Day in the State of New York, in recognition of all those that fought, suffered and died to end the horrors of slavery.

With the Governor and NYS Senate honoring our request we now have a foundation to work with to support our work to curb gun and gang violence; reduce the dropout rates; improve the educational system; and reduce poverty by providing jobs and economic opportunities to the less fortunate.  With the support of the Governor, NYS Senate and a host of other elected officials we are in a great position to create some Real Solutions” to improve the quality of life for all citizens in the Great State of New York.  It is our hope that the model we create can also be duplicated in other states.

JuneteenthButtonCan we Make Juneteenth a NYS and National Holiday?

Texas is the first state to declare Juneteenth as a State Holiday and it is our hope that New York will soon follow their lead so that our youth and all citizens of all ethnic groups will truly know the significance of this very important day in U.S. history.  We want to thank and commend the Governor and the NYS Senate for having the vision to support our request.  We now have a foundation that will allow the Hip-Hop Community and our partners to create the necessary dialogue with those responsible for, affiliated with and/or concerned about the “Slave Trade” and its affects on the growth and development of African-Americans so we can collaborate to make this a better state for African-Americans and all citizens.

Very special thanks to the ACLU, the Juneteenth Committee of Masjid Malcolm Shabazz, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center New York Support Group for their years of support for Juneteenth, inmate’s rights and the reform of the criminal justice system.

In the pic: Charles and Randy Fisher holding up the Proclamation from NYS Governor Cuomo and the NYS Senate Resolution for Juneteenth Day.