Happy Juneteenth! Enjoy this excerpt from my children’s book, Bella Learns the Price of Freedom.
As Uncle Shep began driving again, Mama prepared Bella for what she would see. Cocking her head to the side, Mama started her history lesson: “Armstrong Colony is special because it remains one of only two Freedman’s settlements in East Texas built after the Civil War. The black slaves in Texas learned they were free 2 1/2 years after President Abraham Lincoln made a public statement called the Emancipation Proclamation.”
“Yet and still, Texas was the last state to let its black slaves know that they were free from their white masters and could leave the plantation,” Aunt Prudy spit out.
Aunt Rose patted Aunt Prudy’s hand to calm her. Eyes sparkling, Aunt Rose joined in with Mama’s story: “Slaves gathered in front of the courthouse in Galveston, TX on June 19, 1865, while General Gordon Granger read the freedom declaration. When the Texas slaves heard they were free, they celebrated. They were so happy that they named June 19th Jubilee Day!”
“Now, we call June 19th Juneteenth, and black folks celebrate it whether they are from Texas or not,” Aunt Prudy added while sucking her teeth.
Eyes squinting against the sun, Mama interrupted, “Once black Texans learned that they were free, some of them wanted real independence. So, they left the plantations and created their own communities like Armstrong Colony.” Artwork by Jo Scott.
their full trunks.
Twists and curls
of young girls.
Young boys rapping
Toasts and drinking.
Joy bells ringing