Delayed freedom makes us stronger
On June 19, 1865 – 156 years ago – slaves in Galveston, Texas learned that the Civil War was over and that they were free. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, this news took over two years to reach Texas.
So June 19, 1865 is a constant reminder to African Americans of how freedom and justice in the United States has been delayed. Even after General Gordon Granger entered Galveston, some slave masters withheld the information from their slaves in order to use it to harvest more crops illegally.
Slavery left behind a trauma that permeated all aspects of American life, from housing, wealth, and family life to educational opportunities. St. Philip’s College, like other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), was established to give black Americans a chance to access higher education.
But disparities in access persist due to the rising costs of post-secondary education. The San Antonio Chapter of The Links Incorporated is trying to close the funding gap and recently awarded 11 outstanding students scholarships to help them achieve their next steps and ease the burden of university debt. These worthy recipients include:
- Keith Baker (John Jay Science and Engineering Academy), who will attend Northeastern University;
- Dominique Battles (East Central High School), who will attend the University of Texas at Austin;
- Brittney Carson (James Madison High School), who will attend St. Philip’s College;
- Imani Evans (Tom C. Clark High School) who is considering both Spelman College and Baylor University;
- Corinthian Ewesuedo (Keystone School), who will attend Case Western Reserve University;
- Jasmine E. Forbes (Byron P. Steele II High School), who will attend Spelman College;
- Chyna Smith (St Philip’s College Early College High School), who will be attending Prairie View A&M University;
- Kailynn Williams (Communication Arts High School), who will be attending Xavier University;
- Joy Williams (Sam Houston High School), who will be attending Texas Southern University; Regan Wilson (Claudia Taylor Johnson High School), who will attend Florida A&M University;
- and Melvin Wrightsil (Sam Houston High School), who will attend Vanderbilt University.
The San Antonio Chapter of Links has been awarding scholarships to students for several decades and celebrated its 60th anniversary serving San Antonio in 2020. It’s part of a legacy of helping the next generation that includes mentoring, presentation educational, health and cultural programs; and donate funds to other organizations that help fight food insecurity, homelessness and provide resources to those in need.
It wasn’t until this year (just days before this article was published) that President Joe Biden signed a law establishing June 19 as June 17th National Independence Day. The United States Office of Personnel Management has announced that most federal employees will observe the holiday on June 18, as June 17 falls on a Saturday this year.
We pay tribute to June 19, because it is important that the local community understand the importance of this date. If we hope that our children are better than us, we must teach them not to repeat our past mistakes. We need to invest in them. Slavery created wealth for many families, but shattered generations of so many others.
Even after 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation could not erase the racism and hatred that made slavery exist. We see it today through acts that aim to dominate and subdue people of color rather than uplift and motivate. When a black-owned business is denied capital, COVID-19 vaccines are not available in low-income areas, the prison system is mostly filled with people of color, or an instructor assumes a student will have poor performance in his class because he is black, these are all acts intended to subdue or dominate.
Juneteenth is a day that was a symbolic end to captivity. But 400 years after slavery began in America, we still have a lot of work to do to free our minds and create fair opportunity for all. Our work continues with our children who want to be better.
To learn more about the San Antonio chapter of The Links, Incorporated, visit us at www.sanantoniolinks.org.