• The Magnolia Literacy Project

Erica Barnes and LaWanda Dickens “Juneteenth: Freedom Delayed, Victory Earned”

Updated: Jun 20

Erica Barnes collaborated with her mentor, LaWanda Dickens, to write this occasional poem for The Magnolia Literacy Project's 2022 Juneteenth Youth Workshop, scheduled to take place in Brookhaven, MS, on June 17, 2022, 2:00 P.M., at the Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library.

Barnes, an eleventh grader at Monticello high school, recently earned fifth place in the Educators Rising impromptu speaking competition, sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Education. She is among a select group of students recognized with this honor.


Dickens, Founder of The Magnolia Literacy Project, is a faculty member at Jackson State University in the Department of English, Foreign Languages, and Speech Communication, where she teaches composition courses.


“Juneteenth: Freedom Delayed, Victory Earned”


January 1, 1863 …

President Abraham Lincoln

Issued the Emancipation Proclamation.


Emancipation,

Freedom,

For enslaved Black people.


Proclamation,

A clear declaration or announcement,

Official,

Deal sealed.


But …

As history and written records

Repeatedly reveal,

For Black people,

There’s a gray area.


Emancipation,

Freedom,

For SOME enslaved Black people.

But NOT for all.


Proclamation,

A NOT so clear declaration or announcement,

A deal NOT sealed

For our ancestors in Galveston, Texas,

Who wore the chains of slavery

For two-and-a-half years,

AFTER President Lincoln’s

Proclamation.


June 19, 1865 …

Juneteenth,

The birthday of ALL of our ancestors’

Freedom,

Troops arrived

In Galveston Texas

With Major General Gordon Granger,

Delivering the news

Of emancipation

To our Lone Star

Ancestors.

A day of celebration

Honoring the end of slavery

Honoring the culture

Our ancestors created

IN AMERICA.


But …

As history and written records

Repeatedly reveal,

For Black people,

There’s a gray area.


For 156 years ...

America did not honor

The emancipation

Of our ancestors,

Or the culture they created

IN AMERICA.


June 17, 2021 ...

President Joe Biden

Established

The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act,

Declaring Juneteenth

A federal holiday.

On that day,

What has always been

Important to us,

Was suddenly deemed

Important to America.


Let Juneteenth be a reminder

Of what being Black is.

It is

Excellence,

Power,

Love,

And

Life.


It is

Being dealt

The worst hand

Yet still finding

A way to win.


It is

The very beginning

And

The very end.


Let Juneteenth

Be a reminder,

Not just today,

But every day,

Of those gray areas

Of freedom denied,

Of freedom delayed,

And …

Of victory earned

As you live

Your

Best

Black

Life

On the shoulders

Of

Our ancestors.


Happy Juneteenth!

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