Sunday, June 14, 2009

Juneteenth 2009 in Oakland

Kongo said at the Libation for the Ancestors that all the 'teens were cause for celebration freedom and liberty of the African spirit and if we could make it through these seven days without violence: verbal, physical or spiritual toward one another, it would be a monumental step in Oakland for the rest of the year.

Omnira Projects Roots of Freedom: A Celebration of the End of Slavery, which followed the Libation in another part of Lakeside Park, extended the libation in a more communal and practical direction. As the facilitator, Wanda Ravernell led those assembled in a well-choreographed sequence of music, dance, song, plus relevant and significant history lessons reaching back into American history and showing how no one was left unaffected by the enslavement of African people, whether that meant one was the descendant of a victim like the Chinese and who were brought in to take the place of the emancipated Africans, white women who still hadn't gained equal rights, or a perpetrator like some Jews and other races of people. Various communities offered prayers from their traditions: a prayer from the First Nation, along with a reading of the 13th Amendment with historic testimony read by a volunteer from those assembled, as Just4U band played a refrain from "Saints Go Marchin' In. Then representatives from African nations shared from the Ifa (Yoruba), Vodun (Dahomey), and Palo Mayombe (Congo) traditions offered prayers and other insightful stories.

The Saints Go Marchin' In refrain began again and someone read the 14th Amendment to the Constitution with testimony about how this is the Amendment that granted everyone the right to vote, but wasn't enforced until the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act over 100 years later.

The Abrahamic Faiths then shared, along with representatives from Eastern and an Inner Faith. The afternoon ended with a recessional to When the Saints Go Marchin' In waving our white kerchiefs...our feet treading in the footsteps of formerly enslaved Africans who looked forward to this day many did not live to see.


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