Councilmember Steve Madison had a great idea at Monday’s City Council meeting when he suggested holding the Black History Parade on Juneteenth.
First the important stuff.
Last month, the city canceled the parade due to an inability to enforce strict protocols among paradegoers.
Of course, the cries went out asking why the Rose Parade was held under the similar circumstances. But the Tournament’s parade was ticketed and more than 90% of the participants were vaccinated. The unvaccinated were required to test negative.
To make a long story short, it’s easier to keep people safe at the ticketed event.
I get it, and it makes sense.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Black History parade has to be scrubbed outright. As City Manager Cynthia Kurtz said Monday night if the Omicron numbers are down, there is no reason the parade committee could not reconvene and discuss holding the parade later in the year.
For my money, I’d like to see the parade held on Juneteenth every year.
It breaks the prevalent habit of only celebrating Black History in February during Black History Month.
Black history is American history and should not be limited to one month.
Also, the city has a strong connection to Juneteenth, which makes it the perfect day for a Black History Parade.
In case you don’t know the story, on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the slaves there were free.
President Joe Biden signed a bill last year making Juneteenth a national holiday after the House and the Senate passed the bill in a rare showing of bipartisanship.
They weren’t the only ones to remain in bondage after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
That one is burned in my brain, I got kicked out of a history class in junior high for disagreeing with a teacher who claimed Lincoln freed the slaves. Nope, the Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in confederate states waging war against the Union.
Black people remained in slavery in border states that remained loyal to the Union, a fact consistently omitted from history books, including the ones they used at my junior high school.
Putting that aside, 21 years to the day after the slaves in Galveston were freed, Pasadena became the second city incorporated in LA County on June 19, 1886.
The area’s impact on Black history does not stop there of course.
Many abolitionists, including Owen Brown and Ellen Garrison Clark came to the area, yes that includes Altadena.
Of course it all depends on COVID-19. The infection rate has to drop for any of this to happen.
Something to hope for.