Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in America, has been a day of celebration in the black community since 1866, yet many Americans are just now learning of its meaning. Until recently, the only team to acknowledge Juneteenth was the Tulsa Drillers, who since 2011, have paid tribute to Tulsa's negro league team, the T-Town Clowns. Juneteenth, and other events in Black history such as the Tulsa Race Massacre, are days we should remember. They may not bring back the lives of those lost at the hands of brutality, oppression and racism, but we should always celebrate them, fight for them, and never bury their history.
- The plight of black Americans in this nation has always been that of hard-fought victories in the name of validating and protecting our humanity. The abolition of slavery could never undo the atrocities, but we still celebrate Juneteenth. We celebrate it for our ancestors whose only reality during their lifetimes was that of the brutal, dehumanizing institution of slavery. And we celebrate it for our ancestors who got word on June 19, 1865, that slavery was no longer.
Juneteenth is rarely mentioned when discussing American history. Prior to the NFL recognizing it as a national holiday as a result of the recent protest and hard work of groups like Hella Creative, the only team that acknowledged its importance is the Tulsa Drillers. As far back as 2011, the Minor League Baseball team would suit up in T-Town Clown jerseys, North Tulsa's Negro League team owned by Alphonso Williams. It was the first black-built, black-owned, and black-operated baseball club and ballpark in Oklahoma.
Tulsa is not only the home of the Drillers and T-Town Clowns. It was also home to Black Wall Street, the wealthiest black community in America until the Tulsa Massacre when, in 1921, a white mob, including uniformed police officers and the National Guard, burned and bombed around 36 square blocks to the ground, killing 200 to 300 black people and destroying 1,200 homes. Not a single person was arrested for this crime against humanity, and not one of the insurance claims made by the survivors was honored. Like Juneteenth, this is a part of America's buried history, but it's an event we must never forget and one we must always remember as one of the harshest examples of the troubling history of how black progress is often met with white violence in this nation.
Juneteenth is a celebration of a brighter tomorrow. These protests are being held nationwide to ensure that brighter tomorrow. No, they won't bring George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or the countless others who have lost their lives at the hands of police brutality back, but we must always remember them, and we must always strive and fight for them and for a brighter tomorrow, a brighter tomorrow where our vibrant black brothers and sisters are no longer reduced to being memories at the hands of brutality, oppression, and racism.