History Lesson: Juneteenth aka Rodeo Strong

Oh my goodness, if my girl J.G. hadn’t of reached out to me reminding me today was Juneteenth, this oh so important holiday would have passed by without any fanfare from me. For the uninitiated Juneteenth is the celebration of the true end to slavery. Meaning, back in 1863 Abraham Lincoln wasn’t hunting vampires (as far as we know) he actually enacted the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in America, however there was one little problem, as usual Texas thought it was above the law. I say as usual because I’ve visited Texas and had a funky good time but it was clear that the state of Texas operates differently from everyone else…I mean seriously drive-thru daiquiri spots? I experienced that, the irony, it was situated under a huge ‘don’t drink and drive’ billboard, but I digress. So good ol’ Texans felt like, ‘That cat Abraham Lincoln has it all wrong, let’s go ahead and pretend like the post-man  never rode through here and told us we had to free our slaves.’ Fast forward to June 19th 1865, the date Texans finally decided to enlighten their slaves that they were free to pack their goods and head for the woods. I’m guessing some of them thought, ‘Sooooo the president announced I was free, but I’m just finding out two years later!?!’ I’m wondering which one of the crew decided to ‘take one for the team’ and got killed trying to kill massa for the late message; you know there was somebody who couldn’t mask their anger.  There were probably some folks who shrugged their shoulders and signed on for a life of share cropping aka nouveau slavery, either way Juneteenth has become an ‘unofficial’, meaning not on any government calendars, holiday for black folks to celebrate the day the Emancipation Proclamation was finally enacted across the entire US.

I might sound like a minor authority, but let’s be real, I only just heard about Juneteenth about nine years ago at a public library function; I had no idea this holiday even existed. I never celebrate it officially, but I have a little crew (J.G. and CMay) that help me remember my heritage and take time out of their day to send a shout-out in commemoration of those folks who worked some overtime hours like salaried employees meaning more hours no pay. We celebrate the date by talking about how we wish somebody would have told us that we had been free for two years, acting like we would pull a Nat Turner and start a revolution. We regale each other with stories about what we would have done, crack jokes and reflect on the real disrespect of it all. Somewhere through the years we stumbled across the above picture around Juneteenth about 3 or 4 years ago and felt it symbolized the true character and spirit of our ancestors. Don’t ask me why, the picture was so gangsta to us, it came to mean something important to us and every year it reappears as a reminder that our ancestors were ‘rodeo-strong’ so we will carry that torch forth and purposefully ride that bitch called life until the wheels fall off!