A METROFOCUS JUNETEENTH SPECIAL REPORT

Today marks Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States and a holiday that’s particularly important for African Americans. Also known as “Freedom Day.” June 19 is observed annually across the country in 46 states. This year, the holiday takes on a special significance for our nation’s history. Harriett Tubman was one of the leaders of the abolishment movement and former slave. To celebrate the emancipation of slaves in the United States, we take you north of the city, to Auburn, New York to explore Harriet Tubman’s life and legacy, from the Underground Railroad to her final resting place.

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

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

> 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.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL REPORT ON 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

THIS YEAR, THE JUNETEENTH HOLIDAY HAS TAKEN ON A SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE.

THAT'S BECAUSE THIS YEAR'S JUNETEENTH IS IN THE WAKE OF NATIONAL PROTESTS FOLLOWING THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD.

PROTESTS THAT HAVE ALREADY SPARKED SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN POLICING ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

TRADITIONALLY, JUNETEENTH WAS A CELEBRATION THAT BROUGHT TOGETHER AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES TO CELEBRATE THE END OF CHATTEL SLAVERY.

BUT THE CELEBRATION AND THE SIGNIFICANCE WERE ALMOST LOST TO TIME.

WITH NATIONAL CONVERSATIONS ON STRUCTURAL RACISM AND WHITE SUPREMACY VERY MUCH AT THE FOREFRONT AND THE ASCENDANCY OF BLACK LIVES MATTER AS A GLOBAL MOVEMENT, THE CELEBRATION OF JUNETEENTH HAS A DEEPER MEANING AS AMERICA ATTEMPTS TO RECTIFY OUR HISTORY WITH OUR PRESENT.

AND IT'S IN THAT SPIRIT THAT I'D LIKE TO WELCOME OUR TWO GUESTS TO THE PROGRAM.

DR. CRYSTAL FLEMING.

HI.

SHE IS AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AT SUNY STONY BROOK AND IS THE AUTHOR OF 'HOW TO BE LESS STUPID ABOUT RACE: ON RACISM, WHITE SUPREMACY, AND THE RACIAL DIVIDE.'

I'D LIKE TO ALSO WELCOME DEBBIE-ANN PAIGE.

HI.

SHE IS A HISTORIAN SPECIALIZING IN LOCAL AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY AND THE CO-PRESIDENT OF THE STATEN ISLAND CHAPTER OF THE AFRO-AMERICAN AND GENE LOGICAL SOCIETY.

THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US ON THE SHOW.

THANKS FOR HAVING US.

ABSOLUTELY.

DEBBIE-ANN, I WANTED TO START WITH YOU AS THE HISTORIAN HERE.

IF YOU COULD JUST REMIND US ALL OF WHAT EXACTLY IS JUNETEENTH.

SO JUNETEENTH IS THE CELEBRATION OF -- BY FORMERLY ENSLAVED PEOPLE WHEN GENERAL GORDON GRANGER MADE HIS WAY OUT TO GALVESTON, TEXAS, WHICH IS THE HINTERLANDS OF THE SLAVE -- SLAVOCRACY I WOULD SUPPOSE AND HE FOUND THAT PEOPLE WERE STILL WORKING OR TOILING AS ENSLAVED PEOPLES AND HE GAVE A GENERAL ORDER IN THE STREET THAT SAID BASICALLY YOU ARE ALL FREE AND THAT YOUR FORMER SLAVE OWNERS AND THE FORMERLY ENSLAVED ARE SUPPOSED TO WORK TOGETHER AND THAT THEY WOULD THEN -- THEY WOULD FIND EQUALITY AND THERE WAS A CELEBRATION TO CELEBRATE THAT MOMENT.

OF COURSE, BUT THERE'S ALSO A HICCUP TO THAT BECAUSE THAT DID NOT HAPPEN IN THE -- LET'S SAY THE TIME SPAN THAT IT SHOULD HAVE.

DR. FLEMING, I BELIEVE THERE WAS A DIFFERENCE IN TIME BETWEEN WHEN THOSE SLAVES WERE TOLD THAT THEY WERE FREE AND WHEN THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD.

ABSOLUTELY.

SO THAT'S REALLY THE TRAGEDY, RIGHT, OF THIS ASPECT OF JUNETEENTH.

THAT IS WE HAVE THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION IN 1863, BUT IT'S NOT UNTIL 2 1/2 YEARS LATER THAT THESE ENSLAVED PEOPLE IN GALVESTON, TEXAS, WERE INFORMED THAT THEY WERE FREE.

SO THAT IS, YOU KNOW, WHAT THAT STATE -- WHEN WE REMEMBER THIS COMMEMORATION, WE REMEMBER THE CELEBRATION.

ON THE ONE HAND, A CELEBRATION OF FREEDOM BUT ON THE OTHER HAND THE FACT THAT IT WAS BELATEDLY RECOGNIZED.

OF COURSE.

AND I THINK THAT WOULD ALSO SPEAK TO THE FACT THAT IT IS JUNETEENTH WHICH IS, EVEN THOUGH IT'S CELEBRATED ON THE 19th, IT'S A SOMEWHAT AMBIGUOUS DAY WHY WE KNOW DEFINITELY WHEN THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION WAS DELIVERED.

WE DON'T KNOW EXACTLY THE DATE OF JUNETEENTH, IF YOU WILL.

WELL, THERE'S A NEWS ARTICLE IN 'THE NEW YORK TIMES' THAT ON JUNE 19th THAT SAYS THAT THAT'S THE DAY THAT GENERAL GRAINGER ACTUALLY MADE HIS WAY TO GALVESTON AND MADE NOTICE.

OKAY.

SO JUNE 19, 1865.

SO THEN WITH THAT IN MIND, DE DEBBIE I WANT TO FOLLOW-UP AND ASK, WHAT HAPPENED TO JUNETEENTH AS A CELEBRATION?

BECAUSE IT SEEMS TO HAVE REEMERGED IN THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS, BUT IT HADN'T THERE BEEN FOR A WHILE.

WELL, SEVERAL THINGS HAPPENED.

SO ONE IS THAT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY IN 1866 THEY THOUGHT -- THEY START TO -- TEXAS IN PARTICULAR STARTS TO DISMANTLE THE NEWFOUND FREEDOM BY CREATING BLACK CODES BUT THEY CONTINUE TO HAVE THE CELEBRATIONS INTO THE EARLY 20th CENTURY.

I THINK WITH THE GREAT MIGRATION AND PEOPLE MOVING AWAY FROM THE SOUTH, I THINK WITH THEN THINGS KIND OF EVOLVED INTO THE DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF, YOU KNOW, THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND PEOPLE JUST TRYING TO MAKE ENDS MEET.

IT DIED DOWN.

THEN IT KIND OF SEES A RESURGENCE AFTER THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN THE '60s AND TEXAS WRITES IT INTO LAW TO CELEBRATE BY 1980.

SO THEN THAT'S A NEW RESURGENCE BETWEEN THE '80s AN '90s AND IT DIES DOWN AGAIN AND BY THE EARLY 2000, THERE WAS A MOVEMENT WITH REPARATIONS THAT I WOULD LINK WITH IT AND IT EMERGES AGAIN AND STAYS STEADY AT THAT POINT.

AND DIFFERENT STATES START TO PICK IT UP.

OF COURSE.

THERE'S SO MANY DIFFERENT LAYERS TO THIS.

DR. FLEMING, ONE OF THE THINGS I FIND SO FASCINATING IS THAT, YOU KNOW, FREEDOM IS ONE OF THE FOUNDING TENETS OF AMERICA IN THIS EXPERIMENT THAT WE'RE ALL ENGAGED IN AND I'M WONDERING WHAT -- WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS FREEDOM AND WHERE HAVE AFRICAN-AMERICANS FIT INTO THAT DEFINITION OF WHAT IS FREEDOM, ESPECIALLY FOR THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY.

IT'S A GREAT QUESTION, AND I THINK THAT WHEN WE LOOK AT OUR COUNTRY'S HISTORY THROUGH THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE BLACK EXPERIENCE, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE HAVE TO RECOGNIZE IS THAT FREEDOM WAS TRADITIONALLY DEFINED IN OPPOSITION TO BLACKNESS.

TO BE AN ENSLAVED BLACK PERSON WAS LITERALLY TO BE UNFREE AND ONE OF THE PROBLEMS THAT WE'RE STILL GRAPPLING WITH REALLY ONE OF THE MOST TROUBLING ASPECTS OF THE SOCIETY THAT WE FIND OURSELVES IN IN 2020 IS THAT WE STILL LIVE IN A SOCIETY WHERE IF YOU'RE RACIALIZED AS BLACK, YOU DO NOT ENJOY THE SAME FREEDOMS AS PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT RACIALIZED AS BLACK AND PARTICULARLY AS THOSE WHO ARE RACIALIZED AS WHITE.

SO I THINK STUDENTS OF HISTORY, ANTHROPOLOGY AND BLACK STUDIES, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE THINK ABOUT IS THE FACT THAT WHEN EMANCIPATION WAS ANNOUNCED AND WHEN CHATTEL SLAVERY WAS TECHNICALLY ABOLISHED AND WE HAVE TO SAY TECHNICALLY, BECAUSE MANY PEOPLE HAVE WATCHED THAT SLAVERY IS STILL ILLEGAL IN THE UNITED STATES.

BUT WHEN WE HAVE THE ABOLITIONISTS OF SLAVERY WE NEVER SAW, WE HAVE NOT SEEN THE ABOLITION OF ANTI-BLACK RACISM AND JUST TO DEBBIE-ANN'S POINT, ONE OF THE THINGS WE SAW IN GALVESTON AND THAT WE SEE THROUGHOUT THIS COUNTRY'S HISTORY IS THAT WHEN THERE HAVE BEEN GAINS ON THE PART OF BLACK PEOPLE, TO CLAIM OUR FREEDOM, THERE HAVE ALSO BEEN, YOU KNOW, REALLY SIGNIFICANT FORMS OF VIOLENCE EITHER COMING FROM WHITE VIGILANTES OR WHITE SUPREMACISTS, TO REALLY MAINTAIN BLACK PEOPLE IN A POSITION OF BEING DOMINATED AND BEING OPPRESSED.

SO I WOULD JUST SAY THAT IN TERMS OF THINKING ABOUT JUNETEENTH, THINKING ABOUT ALSO SOME SO MUCH OF WHAT HASN'T CHANGED IN OUR COUNTRY IN 2020, I THINK WE HAVE TO ADMIT THAT BLACK PEOPLE HAVE NOT BEEN AT ANY POINT IN OUR COUNTRY'S HISTORY -- HAVE NOT BEEN GRANTED THE FULL ENJOYMENT OF FREEDOM.

I'M SPEAKING WITH DR. CRYSTAL FLEMING, A PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AT SUNY STONY BROOK AND THE AUTHOR OF 'HOW TO BE LESS STUPID ABOUT RACE: ON RACISM, WHITE SUPREMACY, AND THE RACIAL DIVIDE.'

AND DEBBIE-ANN PAIGE, A HISTORIAN SPECIALIZING IN LOCAL AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY AND THE CO-PRESIDENT OF THE STATEN ISLAND CHAPTER OF THE AFRO AMERICAN HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGY STUDY.

DEBBIE, TELLS ABOUT NEW YORK'S ROLE IN THE CHATTEL SLAVERY.

BECAUSE NEW YORK WAS PART OF THE UNION, THEY MIGHT NOT FULLY APPRECIATE HOW DEEP NEW YORK WAS INVESTED IN THIS AND ALSO STATEN ISLAND.

YES.

SO NEW YORK HAS -- FROM THE BEGINNING THAT THE BRITISH CAME IN AND TOOK OVER -- ACTUALLY FROM THE DUTCH FROM THE 1660s THEY ENGAGED IN THE SLAVE TRADE AND ENSLAVED PEOPLE.

STATEN ISLAND FOUNDED BY DUTCH, PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT HAVE BEEN HERE SINCE THE 1660s AND THE FRENCH WERE ENTRENCHED IN THE NOTION OF SLAVERY AND NEW YORK WAS COMPLICIT.

EVEN AS THEY MOVED TO GRADUALLY ABOLISHING SLAVERY, THEY'RE STILL COMPLICIT.

THEY HAVE THE DIFFERENT LAWS WHERE SLAVE OWNERS FROM MISSISSIPPI OR SOUTH CAROLINA, IN THE SUMMERTIMES WOULD COME AND THEY'D VACATION IN NEW YORK.

MORE SPECIFICALLY THEY'D VACATION IN STATEN ISLAND.

SO IT WAS NOT COMMON BY 1850 WHERE YOU WOULD SEE ENSLAVED PEOPLES WALKING AROUND DOING THE BIDDING OF THEIR ENSLAVERS.

AND SO WHEN SLAVERY ENDS IN 1827 IN STATEN ISLAND, THERE ARE NOT ONLY 700 PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT WHO WERE RELEASED FROM ENSLAVEMENT.

THEY CELEBRATED FOR TWO OR THREE DAYS AND THEY HAD TO GO BACK TO THE PLACES THEY WERE FORMERLY ENSLAVED.

DID THEY JUST SAY KUMBAYA, GREAT TO HAVE YOU HERE, OR TRY TO MAINTAIN POWER AND WEALTH WHICH IS MORE OFTEN WHAT HAPPENED, AND TRY TO FIND WAYS IN ORDER TO CAPITALIZE ON THIS NOTION OF STOLEN LABOR.

DR. FLEMING, I'M NOW WONDERING HOW DO YOU SEE THEN THE LONG SHADOW, THE LEGACY OF SLAVERY, NOT JUST IN AMERICA BUT VERY MUCH HERE IN NEW YORK?

YEAH, I MEAN, I THINK THE POINTS THAT WERE JUST MADE ABOUT GRADUAL EMANCIPATION, THIS IS VERY MUCH A VIVID ILLUSTRATION OF HOW BLACK PEOPLE WERE NOT GRANTED AND STILL NOT GRANTED FULL ENJOYMENT OF OUR FREEDOM.

WHEN WE HAD THE GRADUAL EMANCIPATION OF POLICY IMPLEMENTED IN 1799 IN NEW YORK, IT WAS ALL THE WAY UNTIL THE 1840s THAT WE STILL HAD ENSLAVED PEOPLE OF AFRICA DESCENT HERE.

WHEN WE THINK OF THAT AND WE DRAW CONNECTIONS TO, FOR EXAMPLE, THE MURDER OF ERIC GARNER HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, OR THE MURDER AND KILLING OF BREONNA TAYLOR IN KENTUCKY OR THE KILLING AND OPPRESSION OF BLACK PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, WE REALLY HAVE TO AGAIN GO BACK TO THIS HISTORY, NOT JUST OF GRADUAL EMANCIPATION, BUT PROLONGED OPPRESSION.

THE OTHER PART I WOULD JUST REMIND US ABOUT IS THAT THE CIVIL RIGHTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENTS AND PROTESTS THAT WE CONTINUE TO SEE TODAY, THIS IS ALSO PART OF THE MOVEMENT THAT ALLOWED FOR THERE TO BE ABOLITION IN THE FIRST PLACE.

THE ONLY REASON THAT WE GET ABOLITION IN THIS COUNTRY IS BECAUSE THE ENSLAVED STOOD UP TO REALLY BE A PART OF DRIVING FORWARD ABOLITION.

I MENTION THAT BECAUSE WE'RE SEEING THE DISCOURSE AROUND ANTI-BLACK RACISM, ABOUT BLACK VIOLENCE AND BLACK OPPRESSION START TO SHIFT TO ABOLITION.

POLICING ABOLITION AND I THINK THAT WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF SLAVERY AND THE FIGHT AGAINST SLAVERY IN THIS COUNTRY.

DEBBIE-ANN, SPEAKING OF THE PROTESTS THAT HAVE BEEN GOING ON, IT'S VERY INTERESTING BECAUSE PROTESTING AROUND THE ISSUE OF RACE OR IN SOME CASES RIOTING IS ALSO VERY DEEPLY ENTRENCHED IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT IS.

IT GOES MORE SPECIFICALLY TO STATEN ISLAND I WOULD SAY.

I JUST WANTED TO CLARIFY ONE THING.

MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, RIOTS ARE PERPETRATED BY PEOPLE WHO WOULD IDENTIFY AS WHITE AGAINST PEOPLE OF COLOR AND THE PROTESTS OF PEOPLE OF COLOR TRYING TO ASSERT THEIR RIGHT.

WITH THAT SAID, THE RIOTS FILLED OVER INTO STATEN ISLAND BECAUSE THERE WAS A DYNAMIC OF IRISH -- THE IRISH WHO HAD LANDED HERE, YOU KNOW, DURING THE POTATO FAMINE AS THEY WERE SEEKING REFUGE THEMSELVES THEY LANDED AT THE QUARANTINE STATION IN STATEN ISLAND AND THEY WERE NOW FORCED -- BEING FORCED TO SIGN UP FOR A DRAFT TO FIGHT TO FREE THOSE WHO THEY WOULD FIND AS THEIR ADVERSARIES IN TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT.

SO THE DRAFT HERE, THE RIOTS HERE, LASTED FOR FIVE DAYS.

EVEN TWO DAYS BEYOND WHAT HAPPENED IN NEW YORK CITY, AND THE SMALL NUMBER OF AFRICAN -- PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT WHO LIVED HERE, PROBABLY ABOUT 3% IN 1860, THEY HAD TO FLEE FOR THEIR LIVES.

SOME JUMPED INTO THE RIVER TO TRY TO SWIM TO BAYONNE.

OTHERS WERE HOUSED ON DIFFERENT -- DIFFERENT FARMS OF BREWERS WHO WERE ABOLITIONISTS OR AT LEAST SYMPATHIZERS AND THEY LIVED IN TERROR FOR FIVE DAYS.

THE DOORS WERE TURN OFF, THE FURNITURE THROWN INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET AND SET ABLAZE AND WHEN IT WAS ALL SAID AND DONE, THE LOCAL NEWSPAPERS -- THE RICHMOND COUNTY WROTE NO NEGROES WERE HUNG.

THEY STAYED IN THEIR HOMES, THEY REMAINED UNMOLESTED.

WE STILL HAVE THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN THE PRESS AND HOW THEY RELAY WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO BLACK AND BROWN BODIES, FROM THE 1860s.

THAT CONTINUES TODAY.

SO JUNETEENTH AS IT HAS THIS SIGNIFICANCE IN AMERICAN HISTORY AND ABSOLUTELY FOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS, BUT THIS -- FROM WHAT YOU BOTH ARE TELLING ME THIS IS AMERICAN HISTORY AND I'M WONDERING -- I'LL START WITH YOU DO, DR. FLEMING.

HOW DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT DESCENDANTS OF SLAVES OR AFRICAN-AMERICANS, HOW DO YOU THINK THAT THEY SHOULD BE ACKNOWLEDGING OR RECOGNIZING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS DAY?

WELL, FIRST, I WOULD SAY THAT IT CERTAINLY IS A HISTORY, THIS HISTORY OF JUNETEENTH, THE HISTORY OF SLAVERY, THE HISTORY OF ABOLITION.

THE HISTORY OF BLACK PEOPLE, THIS IS ALSO THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY AND IT'S RELEVANT TO EVERYONE HERE.

BUT I ALSO WANT TO BE CLEAR WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF SLAVERY AND COMMEMORATION, IT IS PART OF A WORLD HISTORY, THE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN DIASPORA AND THE DIASPORA PEOPLE WHO WERE ENSLAVED IN THE CONTEXT OF CHATTEL SLAVERY.

IN MY FIRST BOOK WHICH WAS ABOUT FRANCE AND RACISM IN FRANCE, ONE OF THE THINGS I DID WAS TO TALK TO DESCENDANTS OF SLAVES IN PARIS, AND WE KNOW THAT FRENCH CARIBBEANS HAVE BEEN ON THE FOREFRONT OF BRINGING THE ATTENTION OF RACISM IN FRANCE AND IT'S THE SIMILAR DYNAMIC IN THE FRENCH CARIBBEAN AND THIS IS A CARIBBEAN HISTORY.

WHEN THE NEWS OF ABOLITION REACHED THE ISLAND IT'S WHERE WE SEE EMANCIPATION CELEBRATIONS.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO READ THE HISTORY IN THE CONTEXT OF THE HISTORY AND EVERYONE -- IF YOU ARE HERE RESIDING IN THIS COUNTRY, YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND YOUR PLACE WITHIN IT WITHOUT STUDYING AND LEARNING AND UNDERSTANDING THE HUGE SIGNIFICANCE OF SLAVERY NOT JUST TO THE ECONOMY OF THIS COUNTRY, BUT ALSO TO THE CULTURE OF THIS COUNTRY, WHICH, YOU KNOW, TO THIS DAY IS STILL VERY MUCH BUILT UNFORTUNATELY ON ANTI-BLACK RACISM.

DEBBIE, HOW DO YOU SEE CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH OR ACKNOWLEDGING AND RECOGNIZING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JUNETEENTH FOR ALL CULTURES ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

IT IS THE STORY OF US.

AND WE CANNOT MOVE FORWARD IF WE DON'T UNDERSTAND WHO WE ARE.

AND SO UNDERSTANDING JUNETEENTH IN ITS -- IN THE FREEDOM THAT -- THAT A COMMUNITY WANTED TO TRY TO CELEBRATE AND TO EMBRACE AND TO ACKNOWLEDGE THEMSELVES AS IN THEIR HUMANITY EVERYONE NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND THAT.

AND EVERYONE HAS THAT IN SOME PLACE OR SOME FORM.

YOU KNOW, SPEAKING TO THE CARIBBEAN, HERE IN THE UNITED STATES WE WOULD CELEBRATE THE FIRST OF ALL AUGUST CELEBRATIONS WHICH IS THE CELEBRATION OF THE CARIBBEAN PEOPLE BEING, YOU KNOW, EMANCIPATED BY THE BRITISH.

WE HELD ONE ONE HERE IN STATEN ISLAND, ONE OF THE LARGEST IN THE COUNTRY, 5,000 PEOPLE CAME AND DR. SMITH AND OTHERS ORGANIZED IT AND THEY CAME ON THE FERRY AND BEAT DRUMS AND PLAYED FIFES AND THEY CAME TO STATEN ISLAND AS A PLACE TO CULMINATE AND HAVE THE CELEBRATION.

SO UNDERSTANDING THE CELEBRATION OF US I THINK THAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF UNDERSTANDING JUNETEENTH IN THIS CONTEXT.

MY FINAL QUESTION AND WE ARE VERY CLOSE TO RUNNING OUT OF TIME, BUT WE HAVE SEEN HOW AMERICA CELEBRATES SOME OTHER SIGNIFICANT HOLIDAYS.

YOU KNOW, PRESIDENTS' DAY, MEMORIAL DAY, LABOR DAY, ET CETERA AND THERE IS TALK OF MAKING JUNETEENTH A FEDERALLY ACKNOWLEDGED HOLIDAY.

IS THAT SOMETHING THAT EITHER ONE OF YOU SUPPORT AND IF SO WHY AND PLEASE KEEP IT BRIEF.

WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

DR. FLEMING?

I WOULD SAY THAT THERE NEEDS TO BE MORE FEDERAL RECOGNITION OF THE EVENTS AND PARTS OF OUR HISTORY LIKE JUNETEENTH BUT THAT RECOGNITION NEEDS TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY MASSIVE STRUCTURAL CHANGE AND REPARATIONS.

OF COURSE.

DEBBIE?

I CAN'T SAY MORE.

I WOULD ECHO EXACTLY WHAT THE GOOD DOCTOR HAS SAID.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL THEN, I THINK THAT'S A STRONG PLACE FOR US TO LEAVE IT RIGHT NOW.

I WANT TO THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US.

I HAVE BEEN SPEAKING WITH DR.

CRYSTAL FLEMING AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AT SUNY STONY BROOK 'HOW TO BE LESS STUPID ABOUT RACE: ON RACISM, WHITE SUPREMACY, AND THE RACIAL DIVIDE.'

AND I HAVE BEEN SPEAKING WITH DEBBIE-ANN PAIGE AND SHE'S THE CO-PRESIDENT OF THE STATEN ISLAND CHAPTER OF THE AFRO AMERICAN HISTORICAL GENEALOGY SOCIETY.

THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING ME.

THANK YOU.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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