World Just across the border, this Mexican community also celebrates Juneteenth
Juneteenth celebrations arrive amid culture war on race theory, voting, police reform
Juneteenth's rise in popularity after a year of racial reckoning comes amid a culture war on voting rights and American schools' teachings on race.Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and 19th, commemorates June 19, 1865 — the date when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, informing the Galveston, Texas, community that President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved African Americans in rebel states. It’s also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.
In northern’s Coahuila State there’s a village where locals celebrate by eating traditional Afro-Seminole foods, dancing to norteña music, and practicing capeyuye—hand-clapped hymnals sung by enslaved peoples who traveled the to freedom.
It may seem unlikely that this holiday would be honored in a small village at the base of the Sierra Madre range, but Nacimiento de los Negros—meaning “Birth of the Blacks”—became a haven for the Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles who escaped the brutality of the antebellum South and settled in Mexico.
Juneteenth's path to becoming a federal holiday was a long time coming
It's the first federal holiday to be approved since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983. Here's how the fight to recognize it evolved over the years.Since the reckoning reignited by the killing of George Floyd last year, though, the tide has changed enormously.
Now, long after the group came to Nacimiento in 1852, a new challenge remains for the Mascogos: Keeping their culture and traditions alive. In a country of approximately 130 million people, where 1.3 million identify as Afro-descendants, there are only a few hundred Mascogos. Decades of navigating ongoing drought conditions in Mexico, currently affecting 84 percent of the country, have devasted the village’s agriculture-based economy. Younger community members have little choice but to seek new opportunities elsewhere.
Congress just voted to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Here's why the campaign took decades.
For years attempts to make it a permanent federal holiday have been repeatedly shut down by political debates Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. To many Black Americans, Juneteenth holds far more historical and cultural significance than other official holidays. Often called Emancipation Day, or Freedom Day, Juneteenth is a symbol of both generational trauma and progress in America from its long history of slavery. Although 47 states and the District of Columbia already recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday, efforts at federal recognition have stalled in Congress year after year, until now.
But there is hope—both in the strength of Mascogo identity and in the growing recognition of Juneteenth (June 19), a day that marks the freedom of enslaved people inat the end of the United States Civil War and is considered by some to be America’s “ .” On June 17, President Joseph Biden that recognizes Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Such recognition could also strengthen the visibility of this historic community nearly 2,000 miles from .
The southern underground railroad
Hundreds of enslaved people fled from southern plantations to live among the Seminoles in Florida Territory during the mid-to-late 18th century. Spain granted freedom to enslaved people who escaped tounder their rule, but the U.S. did not recognize this agreement.
Black Americans laud Juneteenth holiday, say more work ahead
WASHINGTON (AP) — Black Americans rejoiced Thursday after President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday, but some said that, while they appreciated the recognition at a time of racial reckoning in America, more is needed to change policies that disadvantage too many of their brethren. “It’s great, but it’s not enough,” said Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Kansas City. Grant said she was delighted by the quick vote this week by Congress to make Juneteenth a national holiday because “it's been a long time coming.”But she added that “we need Congress to protect voting rights, and that needs to happen right now so we don't regress any further.
In 1821, the Spanish ceded Florida to the U.S., sending the Seminoles and their Black counterparts farther south onto reservations near the Apalachicola River. Andrew Jackson, territorial governor of Florida, ordered an attack on Angola, a village built by Black Seminoles and other free Blacks near Tampa Bay. Dozens of escaped slaves were captured and sold or returned to their previous place of enslavement; many others were killed.
Nearly a decade later, Jackson, now president, signed theinto law, which required Native tribes in the southeast to relocate to Indian Territory in what is now . Seminole and Black leaders opposed the forced removal, later leading to the (1835–42). Halfway through the confrontation, the Seminoles called for a truce and agreed to move—if their Black allies were allowed to move safely as well.
The negotiations quickly fell through, and the war resumed, but the relocation of nearly 4,000 Seminoles and 800 Black Seminoles, also known as the, had already begun.
The holiday’s 156-year history holds a lot of meaning in the fight for Black liberation today.A portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth,” Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when a group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned that they were free from the institution of slavery. But, woefully, this was almost two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. As much as Juneteenth represents freedom, it also represents how emancipation was tragically delayed for enslaved people in the deepest reaches of the Confederacy.
By 1845, most Seminoles had been relocated to Indian Territory, where many Black Seminoles who joined the journey were kidnapped and sold into slavery inand . Faced with continuous hardships in Indian Territory, members of the Black Seminoles, Seminole Indians, and Kickapoo tribe left Indian Territory in 1849 for Mexico, where slaves could live freely.
Mexico officially abolished slavery in September 1829, and in 1857, Mexico amended its constitution to reflect that all people are born free.
Alice Baumgartner, assistant professor of history at the University of Southern California, says that the Seminoles’ and Black Seminoles’ move to Mexico was part of a much longer history of Mexican authorities recruiting Native peoples who had been forced from their homelands to help defend Mexico’s northern border. In exchange for fighting, they would receive 70,000 acres of land in northern Coahuila as well as livestock, money, and agricultural tools.
“That alternative was far from perfect,” she says, “but it was an alternative nonetheless.”
Juneteenth—in Mexico and the U.S.
Even though thedeclared enslaved people in the Confederacy free on January 1, 1863, word had not fully spread to geographically isolated Texas, where slaveholders refused to comply with the federal orders.
Juneteenth is now a national holiday. What's next?
Now that Juneteenth is recognized as a national holiday, advocates are weighing in on how Americans should mark the occasion and what the day should mean going forward. "Juneteenth is not a Black thing, and it's not a Texas thing," Ms. Opal Lee, whom President Joe Biden called the "grandmother of the movement" to make Juneteenth a holiday, told ABC News' "GMA3: What You Need to Know Friday.
It wasn’t until the last battle of the war when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas—a full two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed—that many enslaved people knew they were free.
One year later, freedmen in Texas organized “Jubilee Day” to, initially holding church-centered gatherings that provided oral history lessons on slavery. Today, the holiday, which is officially recognized in more than 47 states and the District of Columbia, typically includes barbecues, street festivals, parades, religious services, dancing, and sipping red drinks—the last to symbolize the bloodshed of African Americans.
María Esther Hammack, a historian at the University of Texas at Austin, believes the first Juneteenth celebrations in Nacimiento may have been held as early as the 1870s due to military families traveling back and forth from Nacimiento to Fort Clark in Brackettville, Texas. From 1870 to 1914, Black Seminoles were enlisted by the U.S Army as Seminole Indian “scouts” to defend against other Native American tribes as the U.S. Government expanded into West Texas.
“People in el Nacimiento had already been enjoying freedom for many years, since their arrival in Mexico in 1850,” says Hammack. “[But] Juneteenth celebration in Coahuila, Mexico began as a means to show solidarity with their brethren in the U.S.,” says Hammack. Black Seminoles still living in Brackettville drive 160 miles south to celebrate Juneteenth with the Mascogos in Nacimiento.
'Larger than life' George Floyd statues unveiled to mark Juneteenth in US cities
Several U.S. cities unveiled new monuments this week to mark Juneteenth and honor the lives of George Floyd, Harriet Tubman and others.Terrence Floyd unveiled a statue of his brother in Brooklyn Saturday morning and led dozens gathered at a Juneteenth rally outside the Brooklyn Public Library in a chant of "We are Floyd.
While many details of the earliest celebrations have been lost to time, today’s traditions are a vibrant testament to Mascogo culture. On “Día de Los Negros,” women wearing traditional polka-dot dresses, aprons, and handkerchiefs assemble at the nogalera (a park surrounded by walnut trees) at dawn to begin cooking the communal meal. The cabalgata (a parade of horseback riders) begin their 20-mile journey from the neighboring town of Múzquiz, while the elders lead the community in clap-accompanied spirituals such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Dancing to live music and playing bingo, a popular pastime in the town, are also musts.
By noon, the cabalgata arrives at the nogalera, and the townspeople enjoy traditional Afro-Seminole and Mexican dishes, such as corn on the cob, tetapún (sweet potato bread), pumpkin empanadas, pan de mortero (mortar bread), soske (corn-based atole), and asado (slowly cooked pork in hot peppers).
After a quick rest, the Mascogos reconvene at night for a party in the town’s plaza, where they dance the night away.
Threats to the Mascogo culture
With more and more Mascogo descendants leaving Nacimiento for other parts of Mexico and the U.S., Dulce Herrera, a sixth-generation Mascogo and great-granddaughter of Lucia Vazquez Valdez—one of the last surviving negros limpios (pure Blacks)—fears the traditions of her culture will be lost.
She hopes to preserve them by teaching the younger generation of Mascogos the traditional songs and gastronomy of the community. Herrera is also working with her mother, Laura, and great-grandmother to raise the awareness of Mascogo heritage in Mexico.
“Negros Mascogos is one of the most invisible Afro-descendant communities in Mexico,” she says, citing incidences in which community members were asked for official identification when visiting neighboring towns because “they think we are not Mexican.”
Her efforts have not been in vain. In May 2017, the governor of Coahuila signed a decree recognizing the Mascogos as Indigenous people of Coahuila.
As a result, Herrera and Valdez were able to secure federal funding for huertos familiares (community gardens) to assist community members with planting and selling their crops.
Travelers to Nacimiento can visit the small Museo Comunitario Tribu Negros Mascogos, which contains local artwork and exhibits related to Mascogo history. In 2020, the community also opened a restaurant, El Manà de Cielito, which serves local cuisine, and a hostel, Hospedaje Mascogos. Future plans include boosting cultural tourism by teaching community members to sell embroidered textiles, traditional handicrafts, and organic food as well as developing trails for walking, hiking, and horseback riding.
Halle Berry, Lupita Nyong'o & More Celebs Celebrate Juneteenth 2021 .
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden signed a bill making June 19 a federal holiday.This holiday was named for, and is celebrated on, June 19 to commemorate the true ending of slavery in the United States. Earlier this week, days before this year's celebration, the House passed legislation after an unanimous vote and President Joe Biden signed a bill into law recognizing Juneteenth as an official federal holiday.