‘Knowledge, Action and Power’: Loudoun Celebrates Juneteenth

On the first-ever federally-recognized Juneteenth holiday, Saturday, June 19, Loudouners are gathering at celebrations across the county to mark the progress made on equality and equity for all—and the work still left to do.

“It is critical that we remain focused on three things: knowledge, action and power,” said Robin Reaves Burke, NAACP Loudoun Branch second vice president and chair of the NAACP’s education committee. “More than ever, need to gain the knowledge, we need to know the truth about our past. We need to gain the knowledge and understanding of our present, now, and know completely what’s going on, even right here in Loudoun County.”

Speaking at a gathering in Leesburg’s Raflo Park at the memorial for Orion Anderson, a Black boy who was lynched in Leesburg in 1889, Burke called on people to take action in a unified, sustainable way, and to gain power through collaboration and community partnerships. To that end, she urged them to join the Loudoun NAACP, donate—mentioning that donations this year allowed the organization to grant 15 $1,000 scholarships—and join the work of an NAACP committee.

The event also featured a number of elected officials. Attorney General Mark Herring said it the day is an opportunity to “recommit ourselves to the work ahead to right the wrongs we see in our nation.”

“That work is still unfinished, because the promises of justice and equality and opportunity for all still are not fully fulfilled,” Herring said.

State Sen. Jennifer B. Boysko (D-33) also pointed to the ongoing controversy over public school teaching students about structural racism. Dubbing the anti-racist curriculum “Critical Race Theory”—a term borrowed from legal academia originating in the 1970s, and given new life among people attacking that curriculum—critics have put the Loudoun County School Board in national news with outcry from some Loudouners and national conservative organizations. Boysko said, “We are absolutely in the process of changing the way our stories are told.”

“We’re not going to apologize that we’re going to include everybody’s story anymore. We’re not going to apologize for saying that there were some problems. We’re not going to apologize for telling the story of our immigrant community,” Boysko said. “… We’re telling the stories that have been left out.”

Israfeel Martínez-Jaka, who for his Eagle Scout project organized and built a reflection area near the Orion Anderson marker, said he was prompted to the project by discussions about lynching in Leesburg.

“We decided together that we wanted to create a reflection area for people to remember the injustices of the history of the United States, and to reflect and remember Orion, because he was a human being,” Martínez-Jaka said. “Black lives matter. We can’t just throw away anyone because we think they’re less-than. Today I have a call to action—a call to action about finding the truth. Misinformation has been used to divide us for hundreds of years. This call to action is for myself and everyone else to find the truth through the sea of lies that spreads everywhere.”

“If you look at the brothers and sisters around you, I’m so proud, because the tapestry of Loudoun looks like this: many faiths, many ethnicities, many races, but one human fabric,” said Michelle Thomas, president of the Loudoun NAACP.

On display was a quilt that Mary Tucker, CEO of nonprofit My Care Village, said she bought at an estate sale in Virginia Beach for $85.

“Upon close inspection, I could tell it was evident it was not an ordinary quilt, from the hastily-stitched hand threads, to the blood stains all over this quilt, and to the single yellow square,” Tucker said.

She had the quilt looked at by a historian who determined it had been hand-stitched sometime between 1805 and 1860—and the bright yellow square was used to mark a home as a stop along the Underground Railroad for people seeking to escape slavery.

At Claude Moore Park, the celebration spanned the afternoon and featured an address from County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and a flag raising performed by Buffalo Soldiers reenactors. 

“What Juneteenth is, is independence for all people. We of course recognize the Fourth of July, but only once the 14th Amendment passed did it mean independence for everyone, so I am thrilled with this Juneteenth. We have four celebrations here in Loudoun County which tells you Loudoun County has been ready for this day,” Randall said. 

William and Jalissa Cambell of Sterling brought their three children to the Claude Moore event. The family just moved from Georgia, where Juneteenth and the emancipation proclamation are annually recognized with celebrations. Since they couldn’t make it down south for the celebration they were happy to have somewhere to commemorate the day here in Loudoun. 

“We’re African Americans so we’re proud of this,” Cambell said of the event. “This day is a day of reflection and also a time to come together and reflect on the fact that we all contribute in America.”

The Claude Moore celebration also featured a musical performance from Reverend Isaac Howard and the Howard Harmonizers.

Loudoun’s day of Juneenth celebrations continues, with The Burg Family Reunion Juneteenth Celebration ongoing at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg, and Juneteenth Loudoun happening at Claude Moore Park.
For more information, go to thebfrc.com/juneteenth-celebration and juneteenthloudoun.org.

6 thoughts on “‘Knowledge, Action and Power’: Loudoun Celebrates Juneteenth

  • 2021-06-21 at 3:57 pm
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    Leftist liberal activists and black voters will never recognize the contributions of Republicans to this day or their emancipation

    It seems Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, are trying to join hands over the bipartisan approval in Congress over adoption of a new federal holiday, Juneteenth (essentially, June 19 of each year). It’s a day off for federal workers, but each state and business will decide for themselves.

    But there’s a lot of misinformation about what Juneteenth is. I have seen statements in the media and social media like “the day slaves won their freedom” to “the day they learned of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas.”

    Wikipedia says:

    “Juneteenth’s commemoration is on the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865, announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army general Gordon Granger, proclaiming and enforcing freedom of enslaved people in Texas, which was the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery.

    President Abraham Lincoln‘s Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 had officially outlawed slavery in Texas and in all of the other states of the original Confederacy. Enforcement of the Proclamation generally relied upon the advance of Union troops. Texas, as the most remote state of the former Confederacy, had seen an expansion of slavery and had a low presence of Union troops as the American Civil War ended; thus, enforcement there had been slow and inconsistent prior to Granger’s announcement.

    …Emancipation came at different times to various places in the Southern United States. Celebrations of emancipation, often called Jubilees (recalling the biblical Jubilee in which slaves were freed) occurred on September 22, July 4, August 1, April 6, and November 1, among other dates. In Texas, emancipation came late: enforced in Texas on June 19, 1865, as the southern rebellion collapsed, emancipation became a well-known cause of celebration.

    Although this event has come to be celebrated as the end of slavery, emancipation for the remaining enslaved in two Union border states (Delaware and Kentucky), would not come until several months later, on December 18, 1865, when ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment was announced.”

    For freed blacks, Juneteenth, not the date of the 13th amendment or Emancipation Proclamation, became the day to celebrate freedom, often with picnics and fireworks. Texas’ governor issued a proclamation in 1938 honoring Juneteenth “and do urge all members of the Negro race in Texas to observe the day in a manner appropriate to its importance to them.” It became an official state holiday in 1980 and states including Virginia made it state holidays within the last two years.

    All but 14 Republicans in Congress supported the bill Biden signed last Thursday, and that was duly noted by the anti-Republican media.

    However, Republican Party, not the Democrats were principally responsible for abolishing slavery. The GOP was founded in 1854 by opponents of the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which allowed for the potential expansion of slavery into the western territories.

    Until the New Deal era, most blacks (who could vote) voted for “The Party of Lincoln.” Republican votes in Congress were critical in passing civil rights and voting rights legislation in the 1960s since Southern Democrats in Congress opposed, Ronald Reagan, a Republican signed the law creating the Martin Luther King Holiday. Trump’s economy, prior to COVID, led to the lowest unemployment rate among blacks, Latinos and women since 1969.

    But today’s black activists and politicians care nothing about Republican contributions, including their support for Juneteenth. They are so in bed with the Democratic Party as the Democrats are a party of grievance groups and support government handouts as a means of controlling the populace. Conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza has equated the slums and public housing projects with the plantations of old.

    The black leaders and Black Lives Matter (BLM) faction want to shove critical race theory “equity and inclusion” training down our throats and make whites in particular perpetually guilty and liable for past injustices to blacks.

    My guess is that given the racial divide caused by Barack Obama, Al Sharpton and today’s BLM activists, Juneteenth is going to be a holiday only for the woke, and Republicans if they choose to celebrate will be put at the kiddie table, like at Thanksgiving. Not one Republican member of congress was behind President Biden when he signed the Juneteenth holiday bill.

    When I lived in Leesburg, and served 10 years there in elected office, I was a member of the Loudoun NAACP and attended their annual “Freedom Dinner” and marched with my kids in the MLK Day Parades. I also helped the NAACP with some publicity for their efforts.

    Indeed, Republicans attended these events to just show the flag, but in recent years were not very welcomed. The NAACP of Loudoun was taken over by two rabid bigots, Phillip Thompson and Michelle Thomas, who looked at any conservative as a white supremacist or Klansman without the robes.

    By all means, we should celebrate this new holiday, and not denigrate it. However, Republicans should expect no thanks or credit from the Leftist so-called “leaders” of America’s black community for the time being.

    And, no holiday, government handout, CRT-classes or tearing down statues of Confederates or renaming buildings and schools is going to any good for the black underclass in America’s cities and rural areas, who continue to vote in their Democrat politician slave masters over and over again.

  • 2021-06-21 at 10:25 pm
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    The writer is correct that the Party of Lincoln was originally the party that supported the abolition of slavery and was the voice of toleration and progressive ideas for over 100 years. That was until Johnson (a Texas Democrat) signed the Civil Rights act of 1964 which, among other accomplishments, strengthened voter rights and desegregated the schools. In response, the entire south flipped from Democrat to Republican over the next two Presidential elections and has now become the standard bearer for white supremacy.

    • 2021-06-22 at 10:55 am
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      “Johnson (a Texas Democrat) signed the Civil Rights.” “Signed” has always been how Democrats have mislead the public to think Democrats actually pushed the Civil Rights Act through. They did not:

      “the actual voting record for both Houses of Congress shows that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed the Senate on a 73-to-27 vote. The Democratic supermajority in the Senate split their vote 46 (69%) for and 21 (31%) against. The Republicans, on the other hand, split their vote 27 for (82%) and 6 against (18%). Thus, the no vote consisted of 78% Democrats. Further, the infamous 74-day filibuster was led by the Southern Democrats, who overwhelmingly voted against the act.

      An examination of the House vote shows a similar pattern. The House voted 290 to 130 in favor. Democrats split their vote 152 (61%) to 96 (39%) while Republicans split theirs 138 (80%) to 34 (20%). The no vote consisted of 74% Democrats. Clearly, the 1964 Civil Rights Act could not have been passed without the leadership of Republicans such as Everett Dirksen and the votes of Republicans.”

    • 2021-06-22 at 11:39 am
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      The writer here should do some research before making ill-informed statements of history. It was republicans who voted for the ‘64 Civil Rights Act in far greater numbers than democrats. Without overwhelming republican support, it wouldn’t have passed.

      In the ‘68 election, Nixon, running on ending the disastrous democrat Vietnam war and law and order, took only VA and FL in the south, and barely won with less than 50% in three others. Five southern states voted for George Wallace, a democrat, and his rabid segregationist independent run. Only TX voted for the main democrat candidate.

      By ‘72, the nation, minus MA and DC (shocker), votes republican. In ’76, the entire south, minus VA, goes solid democrat. After four years of Jimmy Carter, the south swung back to the republicans in ‘80, less GA. In ’84, the nation minus MN, and of course DC, goes republican. ’88 saw the south, and most of the country vote republican again. In ’92, the south starts going democrat again, with four states going to Clinton. ’96 sees four southern states solidly democrat. In 2000, the south votes republican. Gore, somehow, loses his own state of TN.

      The south did not rest solidly republican after two election cycles, or even in elections afterwards. So, maybe it’s about the quality of the candidates, rather than your vile and toxic blanket claims about “republican white supremacy. ” Pick up a book and educate yourself, instead of believing all the propaganda fed to you by the party hacks.

  • 2021-06-23 at 6:23 pm
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    For a person who recommends book learning, the respondent has given us a textbook example of cherry picking facts to support one’s own agenda. While it is certainly true that the South did not switch from the Democratic to the Republican party overnight, the progression was and continues to be driven by racism. By the time George Wallace ran for president, the Democratic Party had split into northern liberals and southern Dixiecrats, led by Strom Thurmond (who, along with other stalwarts of segregation such as Jesse Helms, switched to the Republican party which was rapidly forming an ideology more in line with their racist philosophy) The irony that a Texas democrat signed the Civil Rights act of 1964 apparently flew right past the author. Johnson was an unapologetic racist who famously told a group of southern governors that his strategy for embracing the Civil Rights act was “to have them n—–s voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” Carter was the lone democrat to carry the south after this time, due partly to his appeal to the evangelical community and partly to the Nixon stain that Ford carried. Reagan reinvented the Republican party by blaming many of the nation’s woes on ‘welfare queens.’ He did not have to say ‘blacks,’ the south knew who he was talking about and have embraced the Party of Reagan (now the Party of Trump) ever since.

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