HOW DO WE TOGETHER OPEN THE DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY?

This year’s Juneteenth comes in the wake of nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd – protests that have already sparked significant changes to policing in this country. Typically, Juneteenth is a celebration that brings black families and communities together to share food, music, and history. The coronavirus has made many of those types of gatherings impossible. With national conversations on structural racism and white supremacy very much at the forefront, and with the ascendancy of black lives matter as a global movement, Juneteenth celebrations will forge on all over the country to commemorate the moment. Two esteemed scholars join the conversation tonight

TRANSCRIPT

> TODAY IS JUNETEENTH INDEPENDENCE DAY.

IT'S ALSO KNOWN AS FREEDOM DAY.

A UNIQUELY AMERICAN HOLIDAY THAT COMMEMORATES THE JUNE 19, 1865 ANNOUNCEMENT THAT SLAVERY WOULD BE ABOLISHED IN THE U.S. STATE OF TEXAS AND CELEBRATES THE EMANCIPATION OF ENSLAVED AFRICAN-AMERICANS THROUGHOUT THE FORMER CONFEDERACY.

JUNETEENTH IS RECOGNIZED AS A STATE HOLIDAY OR SPECIAL DAY OF OBSERVANCE IN 45 STATES.

ONE OF THE LEADERS OF THE ABOLITION MOVEMENT AND A FORMER SLAVE HERSELF, HARRIET TUBMAN, MADE 13 MISSIONS TO RESCUE APPROXIMATELY 70 SLAVES, FAMILY AND FRIENDS FROM BOND AND, PULLING TOGETHER A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO ARE FIERCELY PASSIONATE ABOUT ENDING SLAVERY.

WITH THEIR HELP, TUBMAN USING A NETWORK OF SAFE HOUSES OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD BECAME KNOWN AS THE MOSES OF HER PEOPLE WHO NEVER LOST A PASSENGER ON THEIR WAY TO FREEDOM.

BUT FEW KNOW OF THE HISTORY HERE IN NEW YORK, SPECIFICALLY AUBURN, A PLACE JUST 4 1/2 HOURS NORTHWEST OF MANHATTAN THAT WOULD EVENTUALLY BECOME HER HOME.

IT'S THE TOWN WHERE SHE CONTINUED TO HELP OTHERS AND BECAME AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE AME ZION CHURCH.

BUT HER LEGACY CONTINUES LONG AFTER HER PASSING.

WHEN TUBMAN PASSED IN 1913, SHE LEFT THE PROPERTY TO THE CHURCH SHE LOVED.

THE TUBMAN HOUSE WAS DECLARED A LANDMARK IN 1974 WITH THE AME ZION CHURCH SHOULDERING THE BULK OF THE MAINTENANCE.

THEN IN 2014, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SIGNED A MEASURE MAKING THE HOME FOR THE AGED PART OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

THIS IS THE ONLY AREA IN THE NATION A LOT OF PLACES CLAIM HARRIET TUBMAN, HER NAME WAS VERY POPULAR BUT THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE THAT HARRIET TUBMAN LIVED, WORKED AND DIED.

ALL OF HER ARTIFACTS HERE IN THIS AREA IN CONJUNCTION WITH SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY.

WE ARE TRYING TO RESTORE FOR A LARGER MUSEUM.

WE WILL BE RIGHT HERE IN AUBURN, NEW YORK, MAKING SURE THAT THE LEGACY AND THE LAND ON WHICH SHE SERVED AND WORKED AND DIED WILL BE PRESERVED FOREVER.

IT WAS NEW YORK THAT GAVE SOLACE, COMFORT, RESOURCES, MONEY AND PHYSICAL HELP AND THE JOHN BROWN HOME WAS A MEDICAL CENTER ON THE SAME PROPERTY THAT HARRIET TUBMAN STARTED SO THAT PERSONS COULD RECEIVE THE KIND OF MEDICAL TREATMENT THEY HAD BEEN DENIED AT THE TIMES THEY WERE IN SLAVERY OR THE MALADIES AND ILLNESSES THAT THEY MAY HAVE CONTRACTED COMING THE GREAT DISTANCE BY FOOT MOST OF THE TIME THEY HAD TO MAKE IN ORDER TO GET TO NEW YORK.

NEW YORK WAS THE LAST BASTION OF REST FOR THEM BEFORE MAKING THAT FINAL PUSH INTO CANADA.

1859 THE PURPOSE OF THE PROPERTY THAT WE ARE ON RIGHT NOW WAS ACQUIRED BY TUBMAN.

NOT ONLY TO LIVE OUT HER FINAL DAYS, BUT TO BUILD -- THE PERSONS WHO WERE AT RETIREMENT BEFORE SOCIAL SECURITY, TO FIND A PLACE WHERE THEY COULD SPEND THEIR FINAL DAYS.

THIS IS SACRED GROUND.

THIS IS HOLY GROUND.

WE ARE TRYING TO RESTORE NOW THE OLD BRICK HOUSE THAT YOU SEE UP HERE.

THAT'S IN THE PROCESS NOW OF A RESTORATION.

GOVERNOR CUOMO HAS PROMISED FUNDS FROM THE STATE AND THE LEGISLATURE HAS BEEN VERY COOPERATIVE IN ASSISTING US SO THAT WE CAN RESTORE THE HOME AND THE BARN, HER BARN.

THEY CAN EXPECT SOME PICTURES AND ARTIFACTS OF HISTORY THEY HAVE NOT SEEN.

THEY WILL SEE THE ACTUAL FURNITURE, THE ACTUAL BIBLE OF HARRIET TUBMAN.

THEY HAVE ALL OF THESE SMALL MEMENTOES OF HER LIFE IN SNIPPETS.

WE ARE IN THE PROCESS OF PROPOSING A MUCH LARGER WELCOME CENTER WHEN WE HAVE THE NECESSARY FUNDING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

SHE GOT UP EARLY.

BEFORE THE BREAK OF DAY.

WHEN I HEAR ABOUT HARRIET TUBMAN, SHE WAS A BAD SISTER.

OH, YES, SHE WAS.

BECAUSE HARRIET TUBMAN HAD A WAY IN WHICH SHE WOULD LEFT ON SATURDAY NIGHT.

IF SHE LEFT ON SATURDAY NIGHT, NEWSPAPERS WOULD NOT REPORT RUNAWAYS UNTIL MONDAY MORNING.

THIS PROCESS COMING TO THIS PLACE BEING ON THIS GROUND, LOOKING AT SOME OF THE ARTIFACTS HAVE GIVEN THEM A RENEWED SENSE OF CONNECTION WITH THIS PERSON WHO WE THINK OF BEING LARGER THAN LIFE.

BUT HARRIET TUBMAN WAS ONLY 4'11' SO LIKE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. NOT GREAT OF STATURE, BUT GREAT OF PROMINENCE AND CHARACTER.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

The WNET Group | Media Made Possible By All of You

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019

BBB Logo Charity Navigator Logo