What Juneteenth Means To Me
Happy Juneteenth everyone!
Juneteenth represents freedom from the physical slavery of Blacks in America.
I understand the importance of remembering and celebrating history and I'm intentional about preserving my family history which includes slavery.
God plainly instructed the Israelites in their journey to the Promised Land not to forget how He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. He instructed them to teach every generation and never forget His mighty delivering power!
(Deuteronomy 32:7 NLT)
“Remember the days of long ago;
think about the generations past.
Ask your father, and he will inform you.
Inquire of your elders, and they will tell you”.
This is an excerpt from my book "Grasping at the Wind".
"My father was born June 22, 1913, in Birmingham, Alabama.
Birmingham became a city in 1871. Iron ore, coal, and limestone in the land in and around Birmingham supplied steel mills that sprouted up providing jobs for blacks weary of sharecropping on old plantations for little or no profit.
During the turn of he century, Birmingham became the industrial capitol of the South.
My grandfather was born was born in 1894, in Elmore County, Alabama to my great-grandfather Gilbert.
Mr. Gilbert was born in 1874, and was married to my great-grandmother Josephine.
Mr. Gilbert’s father and my great-great-grandfather Abe was born
in 1830 in Elmore County, Alabama. The 1880 census listed
my great-great-grandfather as a mulatto, which meant his parents had a mixture of white and/or Indian blood combined
with black blood.
The 1880 and 1910 census listed both my great-grandmother Josephine and great-great-grandmother Betsy as black.
Elmore County, located on the outskirts of Montgomery Alabama, straddled a region called the Black Belt. The soil in the
Black Belt region proved exceptionally productive for growing
cotton. This region extended from Texas to Virginia and produced many plantations in the antebellum South.
After the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1863,
many freed slaves remained on plantations working as sharecroppers.
They barely eked out a living because of the unfair
practices of ex-slave owners and Jim Crow laws designed
to keep the African-American race in bondage despite the
passing of this law.
Usually, ex-slaves took the last name of their ex-owners and worked the land of their old plantations.
Through research, I found out that, two large plantation owners in Elmore County, during that time, had the last name of
Long. My great-great grandfather Abe probably adopted that
surname and passed it to us.
My ancestors stayed close to the land. The Thirteenth Amendment freed their bodies, but their minds remained imprisoned with psychological slavery passed down to generations of African- Americans who still struggle to throw off the remnants of the horrific conditions of slavery.
Elmore County did not provide much opportunity for blacks
outside of sharecropping and remained one of the poorest sections of the country. My grandfather left the hardscrabble farm
life in Elmore County to pursue an industrial job in Birmingham. The hot, dangerous steel mill work did not appeal to him so he became a barber. He married my grandmother Ellen who
gave birth to my father in 1913. He named my father John, after himself. My father was the oldest of five children".
Thanks for allowing me to share some my family history with you!
As in everything God gets supreme glory for not only delivering us from the horrors of physical slavery but offers spiritual freedom to all who will accept Jesus!
(John 8:32-36 NLT)
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free”.
Enjoy your day!