Editor's Note: Unfiltered is a Community-led platform created by a collective of young Black, Latinx, and Asian GLHS alum whose goal is to address the racism and racial prejudice that exists in the communities of Berkeley Heights and Mountainside, but also to create an open space to discuss their unfiltered take on uncomfortable topics in simpler terms. 

Hello and welcome to the first post by Unfiltered! We value the health and well-being of our fellow residents during COVID-19, and thus, we hope to celebrate together, as a community next year! Check out the links at the end for more information and ways to celebrate virtually! Thank you so much for being an important part of the conversation; we look forward to more content and dialogue.

Key Points

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  • Juneteenth celebrates the liberation of the last enslaved people in Galveston Texas in 1865, over 2 years after the decree of the Emancipation Proclamation

  • The president attempted to hold a political rally for reelection on Juneteenth at the site of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre that took the lives of nearly 300 Black citizens. The plan to host a divisive political event on the day of Black liberation and at the place of one of the worst incidents of racial violence challenges us to consider how we respond to a blatant disregard for Black history.

  • Trump claimed that "nobody had ever heard" of Juneteenth until he "did something good" and made it "very famous"... What????

The History of Juneteenth

June 19th is an important day that recognizes Black freedom and liberation annually. June 19, 1865 was the date that the last enslaved people in the United States were freed in Texas, and today is celebrated as Juneteenth. This date came 89 years after the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. In the United States, July 4th is recognized as national Independence Day, but the independence and equality that were declared did not apply to all. Juneteenth is the actual date for emancipation of Black Americans. Most Americans simply learn that Lincoln freed the slaves with the issuance on January 1, 1863 of the Emancipation Proclamation. However, slavery continued well into 1865 due to a lack of presence of Union troops to enforce the Proclamation in Texas. The last of slavery ended when Union Civil War General Gordon Granger provided General Order No.3 on June 19, 1865, which stated “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, ‘all slaves are free’.”

With the importance and sacredness of Juneteenth in mind, let’s turn to Donald Trump’s rally, initially planned for June 19th in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The Problem(s) with Trump’s Rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth

In the 1920s, Tulsa was becoming a city of growing and unprecedented wealth for the Black community, due to investment in Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs by O.W. Gurley. As the area developed, it became known to many as “Black Wall Street”, for its financial success. This economic growth, however, did not last long as poorer white residents grew resentful of the growing Black population and their financial success. In 1921, Dick Rowland, a young Black man, was wrongfully accused of raping Sarah Page, a young white woman. On the day of his trial, angry white residents chased Black supporters back to the heavily Black neighborhood of Greenwood, setting fire to homes and shops, and shooting Black residents. As many as 300 Black people were killed, and the Tulsa Massacre became one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our history. In addition to the human life that was lost, the area received no government support for rebuilding, and never economically recovered. While many events that have taken place in recent years, from the wrongful conviction of Black men such as Walter McMillan to the unprovoked racial violence of white men against Black men in the case of Ahmaud Arbery reflect the roots of this tragedy, its significance was never discussed in our history classes.

The president did not care to learn about the Tulsa Massacre, or the significance of Juneteenth, as he planned to have a “celebratory rally”, quite literally at a site where 300 Black people were murdered on the anniversary of the effective end of slavery in the United States. He also did not consider the importance of Juneteenth in his initial plan, instead placing his own campaign, which he called a “big deal”, higher in importance over both the memory of those lost to racial violence and the liberation of Black people. One does not have to be a liberal or a conservative to understand why this stance was and is incredibly disrespectful, ignorant, and callous. Even considering his rally to be as historically consequential or significant as Juneteeth or the Tulsa Massacre is unfathomable. The president’s initial dismissal of the compounding historical factors of Juneteenth and the Tulsa Massacre highlights the president’s lack of awareness about racial history, his unwillingness to educate himself outside of the narrative of white patriotism, and his disregard for the celebration and commemoration of Black lives. While his decision to postpone to June 20th was done with an air of reluctance, it marks his tiniest acquiescence that to hold his “celebratory rally” on Juneteenth is quite utterly offensive to those calling to address racism and police brutality.

Fake News: "Nobody had ever heard" of Juneteenth before Donald Trump made it "very famous"!

It’s Donald Trump's sense of superiority and lack of empathy that makes him officially a textbook narcissist. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, June 18th, president Trump claimed that "[he] did something good: [he] made Juneteenth very famous." How could he have "brought attention" to Juneteenth if 47 states, PLUS D.C., already recognize it as a state holiday? In fact, the Trump administration has put out “statements” on Juneteenth every year for the past three years. If anything, it looks like our president is uneducated on the advances of his own administration, and on his own country's history.

This is our president?

Questions or an issue/topic you want to discuss/tackle? Send us an email at bhunfiltered@gmail.com. We want to hear from you and continue the conversation!

More Information About Juneteenth, the Tulsa Massacre, and Black Wall Street:

Links to virtual Juneteenth celebrations:

How to celebrate without attending a “virtual celebration":

Resources to Support BLM

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1BSYzGR25aCFpNa2vZRmI8AeN5V5FTamYtLAYyVGvE3s/edit#gid=0