Juneteenth: An excerpt from “Jaime, A California Farmworkers Story”

The Author’s Grandmother Poli. Courtesy photo
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By Ricardo Flores Angel, Santa Clarita Contributor

 

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19. It celebrates the date of the pronouncement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas in 1865, Texas being the last slave state to be invaded by Union forces during the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation as most people know was the Executive Order from President Lincoln on January 1, 1863 declaring that all slaves and the offspring of slaves in the states still in Rebellion with the United States were henceforth free. Unfortunately, the order did not apply to slaves in other states nor did it include Native Americans nor Asians. Mexican Americans were in a gray area because a Treaty with Mexico stated that Mexicans who chose to stay in the US after the War with Mexico would have all rights of citizenship. But at that time, 70 percent of Mexican Americans were also Native Americans who did not have full rights even in Mexico.

My grandmother was Native American, Apache. She was born free in 1900. She was only six when her mother died and her father sold her and three of her siblings (indentured) in order to pay to immigrate to the US. She remembers her and her sister being always hungry and being beaten by her master for eating too much food, they were six and eight years old at the time. Her brothers being older were almost certainly treated worse. She endured this for 10 years until her father had raised enough money to pay their passage to the US.

Full Citizenship rights for all Native Americans in the US was not passed by Congress until June 1924. The Right to Vote was not included in the full Citizenship rights however. The Right to Vote for all Native Americans in the US was finally passed in 1948. Utah was the last state to deny Native Americans the Right to Vote until challenged and losing in the Supreme Court in 1957.

 

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