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Juneteenth Message: Why Freedom? – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

Dr. Russell Wigginton (photo courtesy)

Every day I walk through the courtyard of the National Museum of Civil Rights at the Lorraine Motel and look up at the wreath on the balcony in front of Room 306. This is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on April 4, 1968. Every day recalls that he died here seeking freedom for blacks and justice for all. I work on sacred land. It just feels different. No matter how many times you are in this space, it feels different.

I do not take this unique power for granted. I know that 325,000+ local and global people who visit us every year will never think about freedom in the same way after the experience here. The most common feedback from visitors is that they already have a better understanding of the historical depth and a systematic commitment to deny the freedom of blacks, seriously lowering them to a lower status after emancipation. It is becoming much more difficult to reduce the residual impact of 244 years of legal slavery, followed by 101 years of restrictions for an entire segment of the United States population.

I am still struck by the fact that although slaves were released in 1863, 2.5 years ago, Texas refused to share the news with slaves there because, as they say, the harvest still had to be harvested with slave labor. The liberated people were not free. And even after knowing that they were free in this nation, blacks still did not live free. Black codes replaced slavery. The black codes were intended to keep these newly released people in lower economic, political and social status. Although all these inequalities have been legally removed, significant remnants of such a system are still present in American life and culture today. This is how I think as we celebrate the delayed freedom on June 16, Freedom Day.

mine the dream is for “Freedom Day” to happen for everyone. But we still have major battles to win. When I think of the signs of historical progress, most of them happen through strategies perceived as radical for their time. Dr. King had “the courage to believe that people everywhere can eat three times a day for their body, education and culture for their minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirit.”

The 1968 rally of Memphis health workers fighting for their lives, livelihoods and dignity was “I AM MAN. “Dr. King’s last action was to fight for health workers. The brutal deaths of black men, women, and children sparked the ever-present Black Lives Matter movement. The assassination of George Floyd and so many others rekindled the BLM flame. All these efforts were considered inconvenient at the moment.

The National Museum of Civil Rights has a duty to create spaces and experiences that not only land people in the historical constraints of freedom, but also how we individually and collectively achieve true freedom for everyone. I believe that meaningful progress toward freedom for all requires a determination to revisit our national narrative, rediscover the rich contribution of blacks to our American identity, and reevaluate the criteria for what it means to live a dignified life.

Dr. Russell T. Wigington has been president of the National Civil Rights Museum since 2021, having served on its board of directors for more than 10 years and served for more than 25 years as administrator and professor of history at Rhodes College in Memphis. , Tennessee.

Juneteenth Message: Why Freedom? – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link Juneteenth Message: Why Freedom? – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

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