A family adventure to the beginning of Juneteenth - CBS information

today isn't handiest Father's Day, it be additionally Juneteenth, the day which introduced freedom to the closing of all enslaved americans within the u.s.. or not it's also our most recent federal break. That both coincide has personal importance for our Mark Whitaker:

Juneteenth celebrations have already begun this weekend in Galveston Texas, the city where the holiday has its roots. It became 157 years ago nowadays, on June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger went from the piers to downtown Galveston analyzing common Order quantity three, which referred to that "all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of private rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves."

however did not happen until two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. 

I actually have my own, own connection to this story. here is the gravesite of my exquisite-grandfather, Frank Whitaker, who became born enslaved in Texas in 1853.

01-00-47-14.jpg Mark Whitaker at the grave of his tremendous-grandfather, Frank Whitaker, who become enslaved from his birth in Texas in 1853 until the age of eleven.  CBS information

My tremendous-grandfather turned into 11 when he was freed on Juneteenth.

Frank Whitaker is buried alongside his wife, Della, and considered one of his daughters, Julia, who died when she became simply one year ancient. The tombstones are in a tiny, smartly-saved, all-Black cemetery, down a dirt highway simply outdoor town of Jewett, about midway between Houston and Dallas.

cemetery.jpg CBS information

An hour away, in Waco, I met my 2nd-cousin, Bernice Bryant, for the first time.

"or not it's just recently that I've become privy to this a part of the family," said Mark.

"Me, too!" Bernice talked about.

"So, we're discovering each and every different in any case this time."

Frank Whitaker was also Bryant's extremely good-grandfather, and she or he in reality met him as a baby, when he turned into in his 80s and had misplaced his sight: "I've considered him one time," she talked about. "He turned into blind. And he obtained very upset, as a result of he went to crying. as a result of he turned into blind and he could not see us."

I sat down with Bernice; her daughter, Angela Tyler; and Tyler's son, John Bible.

mark-whitaker-family.jpg Angela Tyler, Bernice Bryant, and John Bible. CBS news

For earlier generations, Juneteenth didn't definitely alternate things all that a great deal. John pointed out, "You had slaves that had been freed, however in fact had nowhere to head. They didn't depart with a mule and land, the rest like that."

"They remained sharecropping," Angela observed. "They did not, like, project out right immediately. They waited, and for years." however they couldn't purchase or own their land.

My terrific-grandfather stayed close to the land, however he was capable of get some education. within the decades after Juneteenth, Frank Whitaker grew to be a sharecropper on white-owned land backyard of Jewett. Most of his 13 children under no circumstances left this enviornment. but my grandfather, C. Sylvester Whitaker, Sr., migrated north to Pittsburgh and have become an undertaker.

earlier than he died, he left this remembrance: "My father, an ex-slave, was very incredibly respected through all who knew him. He became a high-quality statistician and historian.  any one wanting to know anything about the historical past of Leon County would go to my father.  He wrote many articles for the Jewett Messenger, the village newspaper."

Even into Bernice's era, many Texas descendants of Frank Whitaker picked plants. As toddlers they all labored within the fields with their folks, opting for and cutting cotton.

And lower back then, Juneteenth turned into just an extra day within the fields. They could not take a day without work. "you'd get to eat," laughed Bernice. "and then we might consume and go back to the container!"

Now, Juneteenth has spread from Texas right into a countrywide break. And my new-found family have come a long way, too. Angela is the director of a day care center, the place Bernice also works. And John is the president and CEO of the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce, which boosts Black organizations. He helps organize the Waco Juneteenth party.

I requested Angela, "What should Juneteenth stand for?"

"I believe it should be a time where you seem to be back and notice where we got here from, after which celebrate the place we are now, the place we try to reach," she responded.

John referred to, "It being a federal holiday permits each person to keep in mind that there's a second Independence Day, a real Independence Day in the united states, where every person, you know, has a appropriate to probability and freedoms. that is really an Independence Day. it be now not most effective for just Black americans, however's for the usa."

Juneteenth is obviously about freedom. but for me, this 12 months, or not it's additionally about household.

mark-whitaker-grace.jpg announcing Grace with the extended family.  CBS news

     Story produced by Alan Golds. Editor: Ed Givnish. 


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