Celebration of Freedom
By Felicia Yearwood-Murrell, SOCR Policy and Outreach
Rodriguez Juneteenth is a day of celebration commemorating the end of slavery in
the United States . The word Juneteenth is a combination of "June" and "nineteenth," which
is recognized by many as the date that slavery ended. On June 19, 1865 ,
Major General Gordon Granger led Union soldiers to Galveston , Texas with
news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was
nearly three years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation
Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862 , notifying
the states in rebellion against the Union that if they did not return to
the Union by January 1, 1863 , he would declare their slaves forever free.
Needless to say, the Proclamation went unheeded by those states that seceded
from the Union . The Civil War continued.
During the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation had little impact
in Texas due to the influence of slave holders and the minimal number of
Union troops to enforce the proclamation. As a result, slavery in Texas
continued to thrive. In fact, many slave owners from other slave-holding
states brought their slaves to Texas to wait out the war.
With the surrender of General Robert E. Lee on April 9, 1865 , and the
arrival of General Granger's 2,000 troop regiment, the Union forces were
finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. This brought
about effective freedom for the last 250,000 slaves whose bondage had been
essentially unaffected by Lincoln 's proclamation.
OBSERVANCE OF JUNETEENTH
For more than a century, Juneteenth was observed mainly in Texas and parts
of Arkansas , Louisiana , and Oklahoma . Many former slaves and descendants
made an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. In recent decades,
communities across the nation have adopted the holiday, yet Texas remains
the only state to make Juneteenth a state holiday, with state offices
WASHINGTON STATE OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZES JUNETEENTH
On April 17, 2007 , Governor Christine Gregoire signed H.B. 1870, making
Washington the 23rd state to officially recognize Juneteenth. Like Columbus
Day, Juneteenth is not a state holiday, but a Day of Remembrance.
Representative Jamie Pedersen sponsored the bill at the urging of Audrey
Jernigan, Director of the Washington State National Juneteenth Observance
Foundation. "It was time to celebrate with real meaning and purpose
as Frederick Douglass would have wanted African Americans to do," said
Jernigan. "He felt strongly that the 4 th of July was not inclusive
of African Americans, and so do I. I am proud that at last all Americans
can truly celebrate Juneteenth, our 'Second Independence Day.'"
To Learn More about Juneteenth:
Jubilee for Freedom by June Preszler
A Day to Celebrate Freedom from Slavery by Angela Leeper
Natalie M. Rosinsky
Day by Denise M. Jordan
On the Web:
New Publication for People with Criminal Records
The Seattle Office for Civil Rights has put together a new brochure
with important information for people with criminal records.
Employment and Housing Facts for People with Criminal Records uses
a question and answer format to discuss the laws that impact people's
search for employment and housing. It also explains how to restore voting
rights lost after a felony conviction, and provides a list of legal resources
for further assistance.
The brochure is available in the Publications section of our website
If you have any questions or to request copies of the publication, please
contact Brenda Anibarro at (206) 684-4514 or by email at Brenda.Anibarro@Seattle.Gov.
New Discrimination Protections for Veterans and Military Personnel
The Washington Legislature recently passed a bill that was signed into
law by Governor Gregoire giving honorably discharged veterans and people
with military status protections against discrimination.
The protections cover employment, housing and public accommodations
and will be enforced by the Washington State Human Rights Commission.
The new law will become effective on July 21, 2007 .
The WSHRC will be working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs
to ensure a sound knowledge base on veterans' issues, and will conduct
outreach, education, and training for covered entities and veterans'
groups. For more information contact the Washington State Human Rights
Commission toll free at 1-800-233-3247 or visit their website at www.hum.wa.gov.
What is your position at SOCR?
I have been an administrative assistant with the Seattle Office
for Civil Rights for three years. I also did an out-of-class assignment
for six months as the Commission Liaison for the Seattle Women's
Commission in the Policy and Outreach Division.
What do you love most about working at SOCR?
What I love most about the job is the kind of work we do and the
services we provide. I love the fact that I am now in the position
to help those that I see go through the same struggles that I went
through years ago, and on some issues, still deal with on a daily basis.
I love that I am able to offer people that we work for and work with,
the services they need just to have the same opportunities that we
all should have.
What are you passionate about?
I have so much passion about so many things, but the most important
passion I have is being a mother again. I raised my first child (son)
who will be 21 this year, as a single mother. I was still young when
I had my son. I was still out there trying to find myself when all
the while I was busy raising a boy to be a man. I did what I had to
at the time to survive. So now that I am blessed to be a mother again
of twin daughters, my main passion is to be a better mom – to
show them what a better person I am for having them in my life.
Position: Civil Rights Analyst
What do you love most about working at SOCR?
I like working for SOCR because you get an opportunity to interact
with people on a daily basis. Attempting to communicate with people
of varying backgrounds and educational levels is quite a challenge
that I generally enjoy. I enjoy being a neutral party in the cases
I investigate. Being neutral allows me to feel good about a case whether
it is no cause or reasonable cause because I know that my analysis
is based on my own interpretation and application of the law. If I
see there is no violation, it feels good to let the employer or housing
provider know that. Likewise, if I see there is evidence of discrimination
I relish the opportunity to speak with the Charging Party and explain
what I have found. I also think that I work with a great team!
Who inspires you and what are you passionate about?
In terms of inspiration, I would say that my parents are my main
sources of inspiration. I love being outdoors participating in various
athletic activities, and I like food a lot!