White folks probably don’t know the significance of Juneteenth, also called FREEDOM DAY, JUBILEE DAY, CEL-LIBERATION DAY, EMANCIPATION DAY.  Why should they?  How many of us knew about Cinco de Mayo  before Taco Bell came to the USA?  We, as a race, are extremely culture insensitive.

JUNETEENTH commemorates a day important in the history of African-Americans.   On June19th, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation which had been issued in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln was read to enslaved African-Americans in Texas by Gordan Granger, a Union general of the Civil War.  Texas was home to more than 250,00 enslaved blacks.

“This year’s celebration takes place during a moment of national crisis. There is a collective sense of frustration and devastation as we confront the entrenchment of racism and oppression in our systems of government, education, housing, voting, labor, health care and justice that endures more than a century after the last remaining enslaved Black Americans were freed.” splcenter.org

Millions of white Americans will join hands and link arms and connect spiritually with our brothers and sisters of color in solidarity.  We would like to believe that we do not notice skin color.  That is untrue.  We do see the differences, but what we do in our hearts with those differences determines who we will be as a nation.  Our country’s future is at a crossroads with an issue which should have been conquered with the Emancipation Proclamation.

Today, Juneteenth, let’s join in this celebration of freedom.  Tomorrow, June 20th, let’s flood social media, let’s counter any gatherings of disruptive citizens who want to hold on to racist agendas with our own agenda of peace and brotherhood founded upon the words so proudly exclaimed in our Declaration Of Independence…..“all men are created equal.”

Tulsa, Oklahoma, will be the scene of political forces on June 20th which have given a national voice to the hatred and violence of white nationalism masquerading as conservative values in both politics and religion.  We, proponents of nonviolence in actions of social justice, also have a voice which needs to be heard.  Let those voices be ringing loud and clear as we envision a nation free of racial injustice and intolerance.






Maybe the ‘reckoning’ should start in the hold of the slave ships bringing human cargo to our shores for sale on the auction block.  These African men and women lived proudly with dignity in their native land.  They were mothers and fathers, members of communities skilled in hunting or homemaking, swept away by the distant European settlers for greed and profit, stacked one atop the other for the weeks’ long voyage to the Americas.  Many died encrusted in their own excrement.  Can we just for even a moment try to imagine that?  Probably not.

“It was a community of sorts, yet each person lay in their own chrysalis of human waste and anxiety. More often than not, these Africans were strangers to each other by virtue of language, culture, and tribe. Although the names of their deities differed, they shared a common belief in the seen and unseen. The journey was a rite of passage of sorts that stripped captives of their personal control over the situation and forced them to turn to the spirit realm for relief and guidance. . . .” Richard Rohr

What they shared in common was the sound of the moan….

“it was the language of stolen strangers, the sound of unspeakable fears…” 

We – the whites, the majority, the privileged, the controllers, the unconcerned, the favored ones in the eyes of our white God – must reckon within our collective soul the unspeakable actions toward others and moan in unison with the oppressed brothers and sisters of our nation.  The black and brown communities, the Muslims, the LGBTQ+, the Native Americans, the poor, the throw-away and homeless – they all need to be sitting in our midst telling their stories.  And rather than more platitudes and promises to do better in the future, WE need to listen with searching minds and moaning penitent hearts.  Healing has to start within each one of us.

equal justice initiative

“If you want peace, work for justice.”  POPE PAUL VI



As we enter yet another period of American soul desolation with racial divisiveness and immigration policy leading our moral free fall into the abyss of social turpitude, we must remember our violent past and the transgressions of that past.  Those acts of oppression against the least of these, our brothers and sisters, cannot be buried.  They must surface to America’s consciousness, be reconciled, and corrected.  Only then can we say as a nation that we are great among the nations of the earth.  O God, have mercy on us and deliver us to our destined role as home of the brave and land of the free.

Justice: Week 1 Summary


Sojourner Truth

smiley-face-2Just another traveler on life’s highway, hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet, it’s peaceful; beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows


She was born in 1797 in Ulster County, New York, Isabella Baumfree, to James and Elizabeth Baumfree, slaves of a Dutch settler, Colonel Hardenbergh.  The Hardenberghs, Dutch speaking settlers, lived in Esopus, 95 miles north of New York City.  Dutch was Isabella’s learned language.  At the age of 9 her owner died and she was put up for auction.  In 1806, “Belle” was sold with a flock of sheep for $100.  Sold twice again over the next few years she became the property of John Dumont for whom she worked for the next 17 years.  It was then that the slave learned English.  She fell in love with a slave named Robert from a neighboring farm but the owner of Robert forbade them to marry. They never saw each other again.

The state of New York passed legislation granting freedom in 1817 to slaves born before July 4th, 1799; however, that law did not take effect until 1827.  During that 10 year period, Isabella was forced by John Dumont to married an older slave, Thomas,  and they had several children.  Approaching the 1827 day of liberation, she realized that her owner had no intention of releasing her;  she ran away in 1826 with her infant daughter leaving another daughter and son behind.

Isaac and Maria Van Wagenen bought her from Dumont and gave Isabella her freedom.  Following a “religious experience”, after which she claimed to talk directly to God, the ex-slave sued an Alabama plantation owner who had illegally bought her son and she subsequently became the first black woman to take a white man to court and win.  In 1835 a white couple, the Folgers, accused Isabella of trying to poison them.  The black woman, having sued the Folgers for slander, became the first of her race to win such a suit against a white person.

Having then moved to New York City, Isabella, in 1843, changed her name to Sojourner Truth and converted to Christianity travelling New England holding prayer sessions, often sleeping outside and taking odd jobs.  In 1844 Sojourner became acquainted with the Northampton Association, an abolitionist group which supported reforms including women’s rights and pacifism seeking ideals of freedom and equality.  Her reputation as a speaker grew and she became associated with Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.  Her book, THE NARRATIVE OF SOJOURNER TRUTH: A NORTHERN SLAVE, was published in 1850.  Unable to read or write, Sojourner, now a recognized activist, dictated her recollections to a friend, Olive Gilbert.

In 1850 the U.S. Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law which allowed runaway slaves to be arrested and jailed without a trial jury.  In 1857 the Dred Scott decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that slaves had no rights as citizens and that the government could not outlaw slavery in new territories.

The Dred Scott decision and the unsettling times did not deter the early suffragette from her mission;  while her associates spoke to largely black crowds, Sojourner addressed many hostile white crowds ultimately soothing them with her “colorful and down-to-earth style.”

The proceeds from her popular autobiography enabled her to purchase land and a house in Battle Creek, Michigan.  Her crusading continued throughout the Midwest and when war broke out in 1861, she visited black troops stationed near Detroit.  Having met with President Lincoln in October of 1864, she decided to stay in the Washington area working at a hospital counseling freed slaves.  After the war, Sojourner carried on with her lectures until failing health in the 1870s forced her to return home.

Sojourner Truth, Isabella Baumfree, died at home in Battle Creek, Michigan, on November 26, 1883 and is buried aside her family at Oak Hill Cemetery.



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