Vol. 5    No. 12
JUNE 17, 2010

The Capital City Hues
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EDITORIAL STAFF

Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Rita Adair, Ike Anyanike, Paul
Barrows, Alfonso Zepeda
Capistran, Theola Carter, Fabu,
Andrew Gramling, Lang Kenneth
Haynes, Eileen Cecille Hocker,
Heidi Pascual, Jessica Pharm,
Laura Salinger, Jessica Strong, &
Martinez White

Webmaster:
Heidi @
heidipascual@sbcglobal.net
    This upcoming Saturday, June 19, 2010 will be a very special Juneteenth Day. 245 years before, on June
19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and his Union forces landed in Galveston, Texas and announced that
the African in American slaves had been set free two-and-a-half years earlier when President Abraham Lincoln
signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The now former slaves broke out into a spontaneous celebration. And
somewhere in the United States, there has been some form of Juneteenth celebration each year ever since.
This Saturday will also be a special day because it will be the first time that Madison’s Juneteenth Day
celebration will be held as an official Wisconsin state holiday. On December 1, 2009, Governor James Doyle
signed the bill that makes Juneteenth Day an official holiday. This status doesn’t mean that everyone gets a
day off like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. It does mean that the state of Wisconsin does recognize the
importance of Juneteenth Day in African American history. It was a pretty momentous occasion.
    As we all know, the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t mean “real” freedom for those African in America
slaves or slaves anywhere in the United States. After a brief period of freedom during Reconstruction, African
Americans were subjected to America’s apartheid system known as segregation that severely limited the
freedom of African Americans for almost 100 years. On paper African Americans were free. In reality, they
were not.
    Freedom is one of those ambiguous words that mean many things to many people. For some, it means that
they can do anything that they want to and no one can tell them to do anything. This is a particularly selfish
interpretation of freedom that ultimately leaves one completely isolated, unemployed and/or in prison. Look at
what happened with Howard Hughes or Michael Jackson for that matter. Sometimes we can have too much of
a good thing.
    For most of us, freedom means that we are able to make choices. I can wear my hair straight, natural or in
a curl. I can drive whatever kind of car that I want. I can live on the south side, the north side, the west side or
downtown. I can watch whatever movies I want. I will work whatever kind of job that I so wish. I may not
always like the choices that I have, but I am able to make choices nonetheless.
    But in this definition, there is something lacking, namely the breadth of choices. A poor man may have two
choices of cars that he can afford. The rich man may have hundreds of choices at his disposal. While both men
may wish to live on the west side, only one of them may be able to afford to live there. So this sense of
freedom is determined by the person’s economic freedom. The person with more resources has more choices,
more freedom to choose.
    Economic freedom isn’t just about being able to make choices; it is also about being able to speak out. In
this, sometimes, it is the poor man who is at the greatest advantage. There’s a song that says ‘Freedom’s just
another word for nothing left to lose.’ The poor man has nothing that others who disagree with him can take
away. Their problem might be that no one will pay them any attention and dismiss what they have to say.
But those with an economic stake in something — a nice job, a beautiful home, children in colleges with
expensive tuition — have to be careful what they say. If they say the wrong thing, they could be fired from their
jobs or ostracized from their professional group from whom they receive support and contacts. Or they could
be denied opportunities in the future because of what they have expressed. When you rely on others for your
weekly check, you have to take into consideration what they are thinking. While these individuals have
economic freedom on a personal level, they are not free to say anything at all unless they are willing to pay a
heavy price and line up with the poor man in the soup kitchen line. While people may listen to what they have
to say, they won’t be in that position for very long.
    No one is completely free in any society. There are always going to be limitations placed on our behavior,
be it laws or peer groups or public opinion. But in my almost 58 years on God’s green acre, I have observed
that there are two things that seem to determine the level of freedom that an individual might exercise.
    The first is education. The more education you have, not only are you aware of more choices at your
disposal, education places you in a place where you can obtain the means to make more choices. The second
is economic independence, not to be confused with economic freedom. Economic independence means you
are generating your own income and issuing your own checks. You might have to work twice as hard to have
it, but economic independence allows you to make choices about the broader influences in life that create the
choices that many of us have to choose from.
    So on the eve of Juneteenth Day, I wish you two things. Get an education and get as high of a degree that
you can. And seek economic independence so that you can exercise true freedom in this land called the United
States of America. Happy Juneteenth!
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                             Freedom for All
Juneteenth on Juneteenth
The first celebration of Juneteenth as a
Wisconsin holiday