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Black History

California Commemorates Juneteenth ’22

Mayor Garcetti’s signing is one among many commemorations of Juneteenth nationwide as a growing number of states and municipalities officially honor the historic holiday long celebrated in African American communities across the United States. “We need every Angeleno to learn the full story of our past, no matter the ugliness of some of its chapters, and that means recognizing the lasting legacy of slavery in our country,” Garcetti said at the signing ceremony.

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The holiday is recognition of June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers notified enslaved African Americans in Galveston Bay, Texas that they were free under the Emancipation Proclamation.
The holiday is recognition of June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers notified enslaved African Americans in Galveston Bay, Texas that they were free under the Emancipation Proclamation.

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

On June 6, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a proclamation making Juneteenth an official holiday for city employees.

Although President Joe Biden signed a bill declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday last year, cities and states still have the power to decide which holidays they will officially observe.

Mayor Garcetti’s signing is one among many commemorations of Juneteenth nationwide as a growing number of states and municipalities officially honor the historic holiday long celebrated in African American communities across the United States.

“We need every Angeleno to learn the full story of our past, no matter the ugliness of some of its chapters, and that means recognizing the lasting legacy of slavery in our country,” Garcetti said at the signing ceremony.

History of Juneteenth

The holiday is recognition of June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers notified enslaved African Americans in Galveston Bay, Texas that they were free under the Emancipation Proclamation.

Two and a half years earlier, enslaved and free African Americans gathered in churches and private homes across the country to mark what was known as “Freedom’s Eve” on Jan. 1, 1863. They were awaiting news confirming that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery in Confederate States.

Anticipation heightened and celebrations began as the news spread of the 13th Amendment, the constitutional modification that established the abolition of slavery. Union soldiers began their march to spread the news throughout plantations and cities in the South.

However, not everyone in Confederate territory would immediately be free. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later.

In Galveston Bay, freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. That momentous day came to be known as “Juneteenth,” by the newly freed people in Texas.

The post-emancipation period known as Reconstruction (1865-1877) marked an era of great hope, uncertainty, and struggle for the nation. Formerly enslaved people immediately sought to reunify families, establish schools, run for political office, push radical legislation, and even sue slaveholders for compensation.

A California 2022 Juneteenth State Proposal

On May 19, California State Senators Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 109, which would recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday statewide this year. Nine other members of the California Legislative Black Caucus are co-sponsors of the resolution.

For the past three years, Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued Juneteenth proclamations commemorating the holiday and declaring it “Juneteenth National Freedom Day: A Day of Observance” in the State.

SCR 109 urges “the people of California to join in celebrating Juneteenth as a day to honor and reflect on the significant role that African Americans have played in the history of the United States and how they have enriched society through their steadfast commitment to promoting unity and equality.”

California would join Texas (1980), Massachusetts (2007), New Jersey (2020), New York (2020), Pennsylvania (2020), Virginia (2020), Washington (2021), Oregon (2021) and Delaware (2021) recognizing Juneteenth as an official state holiday giving state employees the day off from work.

“By making Juneteenth an official state holiday, California would demonstrate its commitment to celebrating the emancipation of all slaves,” Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-San Diego) said in a statement.

“Juneteenth is an important and special annual celebration for Black culture, resilience, and achievement,” Weber continued. “Designating this date as a paid state holiday mirrors the federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.”

A Snapshot of Juneteenth Events in California

Here are a few highlighted Juneteenth 2022 events in California.

East Bay

Pan African Wellness Fest in Oakland

Lake Merritt Ampitheater

Afrocentric Oakland is hosting a two-day event, The Fam Bam & Pan African Wellness Fest, at Lake Merritt Amphitheater on Lake Merritt Boulevard on June 18 and 19 from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The festival will focus on holistic wellness and feature local wellness providers offering meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, spoken word, self-defense lessons, connections to mental health services, and more.

The organization will also present “Black Excellence Awards” and provide fun activities for children.

Berkeley Juneteenth Festival

Alcatraz-Adeline Corridor

Held annually in June on Father’s Day in South Berkeley’s five-block Alcatraz-Adeline corridor, the festival has been produced by the Berkeley Juneteenth Association, Inc., a non-profit, serving the community since 1986. They rebranded as Berkeley Juneteenth Cultural Celebrations to pursue and sponsor more cultural events throughout the year.

You can find more Juneteenth events here.

Contra Costa County

2022 Let Freedom Ring East Contra Costa County Juneteenth Celebration

Sunday, June 19, 2022, Brentwood City Park, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

“As we strive to celebrate and honor the diversity of all Contra Costa County cities and their history, Juneteenth is a celebration to be held with as much respect as 4th of July celebrations go forth,” the web announcement says. The event is dubbed “A Salute to Black Fathers,” and features tributes to Luther Vandross and Frankie Beverly and gospel artists.

Sacramento

California Legislative Black Caucus Presents Juneteenth: A Day of Remembrance

State Capitol – West Steps

From 12: 30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Monday, June 20, the California Legislative Black Caucus will host a lunch celebrating Black freedom with family, friends, food trucks, and more festivities. The CLBC is calling on all Californians to support AB 1655, which will permanently make Juneteenth a state holiday in California.

Sacramento Juneteenth Festival 2022

William Land Park

Sacramento Juneteenth Incorporated will produce this year’s festival June 17-19, 2022, in William Land Park. This year’s theme will focus on systematic economic injustices. They will partner with several local organizations to highlight and expose the systems and laws that perpetuate the continued economic injustices inflicted on communities of color. Events include a gospel concert, live entertainment, vendors, and more.

You can find more Sacramento Juneteenth events here.

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Black History

Ketanji Brown Jackson Sworn In as Newest Supreme Court Justice

Replacing Breyer, Brown Jackson made history as the first African American woman to serve on the highest court in the U.S. and will assume duties immediately, but her formal investiture will occur in the fall.

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Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson made history as the first African American woman to serve on the highest court in the U.S.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson made history as the first African American woman to serve on the highest court in the U.S.

On Thursday June 30, 2022, Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, was sworn in by one of her mentors, Justice Steven Breyer, while her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, held both the family Bible and one donated to the Supreme Court in 1906. Replacing Breyer, Brown Jackson made history as the first African American woman to serve on the highest court in the U.S. and will assume duties immediately, but her formal investiture will occur in the fall.

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Black History

OPINION: Black Women Will Suffer Harshest Consequences After the Overturn of Roe

The impact of new abortion bans and restrictions will be felt most acutely by poor and working-class Black women — Black women are significantly more likely to live in poverty compared to white women. For these women, the overturning of Roe won’t mean that abortions will end; it will mean that access to critical, potentially life-saving healthcare will move hundreds of miles out of reach. It will mean time off of work (likely unpaid) and travel and childcare costs — expenses that may not be possible for women living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to simply put meals on the table.

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Glynda Carr is president and CEO of Higher Heights for America.
Glynda Carr is president and CEO of Higher Heights for America.

By Glynda Carr

The Supreme Court just dealt a devastating blow to reproductive rights. With its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, five Republican-appointed Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court swept away half a century of progress and eviscerated women’s rights and equality. After last month’s leaked opinion, we knew this moment could come, but that doesn’t make the news any easier to digest.

For Black women in this country, the decision is especially devastating. Thirteen percent of American women are Black, but 38% of people receiving abortion care are Black. Abortion is necessary healthcare — and a lack of access can quite literally mean life or death for many Black women. This is especially true for Black women who have lower incomes, live in rural areas, and do not have access to health care because of systemic racism and discrimination.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, Black women are nearly three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women and are more likely to face maternal health issues. With new abortion restrictions and bans, these health outcomes are expected to get even worse: a 2021 Duke University study estimated the potential death toll following a total abortion ban and found a 33% increase in Black women who died due to pregnancy-related complications.

The states that are already moving to ban abortion are among those with the largest Black populations in the country. Consider Mississippi, the state with the highest percentage of Black residents in the nation, and one of the 13 states with a “trigger law” that ensured the decision would result in a near-immediate ban on abortion access. Three other states with the highest proportion of Black residents — Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas — have these trigger laws in place, and many other states, especially in the South, are moving to severely restrict or outright ban abortion.

The impact of new abortion bans and restrictions will be felt most acutely by poor and working-class Black women — Black women are significantly more likely to live in poverty compared to white women. For these women, the overturning of Roe won’t mean that abortions will end; it will mean that access to critical, potentially life-saving healthcare will move hundreds of miles out of reach. It will mean time off of work (likely unpaid) and travel and childcare costs — expenses that may not be possible for women living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to simply put meals on the table.

At a time like this, when daughters suddenly have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers, it is challenging to imagine a way forward. But the answer is to do everything we can to restore our rights and ensure every woman has access to the healthcare they need and deserve, a right afforded to them under our nation’s Constitution.

To do that, we need to elect and elevate more Black women. Black women have been at the forefront of the fight to protect and expand reproductive rights — from members of Congress like Reps. Cori Bush, Ayanna Pressley, and Lauren Underwood, to our first Black woman Vice President Kamala Harris, to soon-to-be-seated Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

We must elect Stacey Abrams to lead the state of Georgia — one of the states that is now positioned to severely restrict — or overturn the right to access abortion care under the leadership of their current governor, Brian Kemp.

And finally, we need to not only encourage, but throw our unwavering support behind more Black women from all across the country to run for office — women who personally understand the deep impact that a lack of healthcare and abortion restrictions have on communities that have lacked fair representation for far too long.

Today and every day, I stand with my partners and allies ready to continue the critical fight for access to affordable, safe, legal abortions for all women, no matter where they live, how they identify, or how much money they have. We will not back down.

Glynda Carr is president and CEO of Higher Heights for America, the only national organization providing Black women with a political home exclusively dedicated to harnessing their power to expand Black women’s elected representation and voting participation, and advance progressive policies.

The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.

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Bay Area

Oakland Mayor Greets Old Friend at Lakefest

Both Oakland natives, Jones and Schaaf became acquainted when the mayor was an Oakland City Councilmember representing District 4. Back then Jones taught her his breathing/aerobics exercises at his fitness studio in the Laurel District, which the mayor has utilized ever since, and which has been an invaluable tool in contributing to her overall health and wellness.

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Jonathan ‘Fitness’ Jones and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Jonathan ‘Fitness’ Jones and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

At Oakland’s Third Annual LakeFest celebration on June 25, 2022, Oakland Post Ambassador Jonathan ‘Fitness’ Jones ran into longtime friend and supporter Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

As Schaaf exited the stage after making remarks at an event touting Oakland culture through music, dance, fashion, food and more, she greeted Jones by demonstrating his highly acclaimed “breathing aerobics” technique.

Both Oakland natives, Jones and Schaaf became acquainted when the mayor was an Oakland City Councilmember representing District 4. Back then Jones taught her his breathing/aerobics exercises at his fitness studio in the Laurel District, which the mayor has utilized ever since, and which has been an invaluable tool in contributing to her overall health and wellness.

With over 30 years of experience in the health and fitness field, Jones is a member of the African American Sports & Entertainment Group and creator of Breathing Aerobics, a health and wellness company that specializes in teaching specific breathing exercises to improve overall health. He has taught Breathing Aerobics on major television and radio stations, which has earned him the moniker, “Guru of Breathing.”

For more info on Breathing Aerobics go to www.breathingaerobics.com

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