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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 6/16/20



Happy Juneteenth!

This coming June 19th is the commemoration of “Juneteenth.” Most people don’t know what the significance is of “Juneteenth.” So, a little history:

 

JUNETEENTH

The portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth” is also known as “Freedom Day.” I had not known why June 19th 1865 was chosen as the date to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation, since the Proclamation was enacted back in January of 1863. Lincoln issued the Proclamation that formally stated the abolition of slavery was a war aim after abolitionist demands and after massive rallies demanded a statement on emancipation.

The significance of June 19th is that was the date that the Emancipation Proclamation first was read to former slaves in Texas (the Emancipation Proclamation was read successively in the states of the Confederacy when Union troops entered. Texas, as the most western of the secessionist states, was the last to hear the Proclamation delivered. The picture above is of the General Order that was read in Texas. For more information about Juneteenth from Smithsonian Magazine: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/juneteenth-our-other-independence-day-16340952/

 

THE TULSA RACE RIOTS

This June is the 99th anniversary of one of the most ignominious of massacres in American history. Some may refer to the events that occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma as “race riots.” They were not race riots. Those who are more educated on these events understand these were the “Tulsa Massacre,” during which hundreds were killed and thousands were rendered homeless over an 18 hour spree of violence.

Tulsa had a history of a strong affluent Black community. As a result of some sort of interaction between a black man and a white elevator operator in an elevator (the woman apparently screamed), the young man was arrested. The man was taken into custody, after which white citizens wanted to take justice in their own hands and black citizens tried to protect him. After several hours of a standoff, the white men attacked. The attacks in June 1921 were perpetrated by white racists against black businesses in an area known as the “Black Wall Street.” The massacre of Black citizens and the destruction of 35 square blocks of Black Tulsa was designated a “riot,” in order that the damage claim would fall within an insurance exclusion.

In a bizarre postscript, the case was resolved with the young man’s release from jail, once it was determined the woman screamed not as a response to a sexual assault, but because he accidentally stepped on her foot.

 

THE TRUMP RALLY

Our President scheduled the first of his new series of rallies on Juneteenth in Tulsa. This “double whammy” of significant days in the history of Black America seems at least vaguely antagonistic, unduly incendiary, and certainly disrespectful. This may be coincidental; at least that is how it has been represented by the White House. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume this is the result of ignorance and misstep. It is heartening to see the campaign move the rally from this date and location.

Here are a few tweets that I thought you’d find interesting from when the rally had been scheduled:

"I say this as a Jewish person who lost family in the camps. Trump holding a rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth is like holding a rally at the gates of Auschwitz on Holocaust Remembrance Day."

"I live in Tulsa, and nearly everyone I know is completely disgusted. I'm not even sure if our mayor was given a heads up on the event before Trump announced it."

By the way, the mayor was not informed prior to the rally’s announcement.

 

THINK ABOUT IT—WHY THE FORTS MUST GO

We’ve heard a lot the names of Fort Hill, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Bragg, and others. One would expect that armed forces installations would be named for men of character and distinction, who fought nobly for the ideals we hold dear. That’s just not true. These were named for Confederate officers—men who committed treason against the United States. We have named some of our most important military installations after traitors to their country.

I can think of only two explanations (not justifications, mind you) for how these forts would have been named. The first is that the South had recently been defeated in war and in an effort to create amity between the North and South, concessions were made to the “bravery” of their cause in order to forestall further rebellion. This might well have been a decent argument, had it been made in the 1860s or 1870s, when small pockets of resistance remained and Reconstruction was ongoing. That was not the case. The second explanation might have been that friends and loved ones paid for memorials to honor the memory of their departed friends (although that could have been done in cemeteries and not public squares).

Here’s the rub…Much as was the case with statues of Confederate soldiers, these memorials were not created shortly after a hard-fought war to honor friends and family who actually knew these people. These forts were named well after their namesakes receded into the mists of history:

Camp Beauregard, 1917

Fort Benning, 1918

Fort Bragg, 1918

Fort Hill, 1941

Fort Lee, 1917

Fort Pickett, 1942

These dates belie any memory of anyone who knew these men. The first of these was named 52 years after the end of the war. No, these forts were named to preserve the memory of the Confederacy, at a time of the Jim Crow South and the rise of the Ku Klux Clan. These forts were named—and monuments to Confederate traitors were built to deliver messages—the war was but a temporary setback in a more wide-ranging war. They are a blot on our history and they should be renamed post haste.

 

GREAT ART FROM HOME

By now, you probably appreciate my special affection for those intrepid “bunkerites” who, heeding the call of the Getty and other artistic institutions, have tried to recreate famous works of art from home, using only items available in their homes.



I love this one, down to the clock and the red upholstered chair in the background. The sleeping bag is an inspired piece of sartorial wonder…

Warm regards,

Glenn

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