I SEE U, Episode 51: Someday, Will We Ever Be Free?

The grandmother of Juneteenth, Opal Lee, joins a special edition of I SEE U and shares her perspective on the commercialization of this cultural event one year after she paved the way for it to become a federal holiday


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Many view Juneteenth as a celebration for slaves in Texas who finally received word on June 19, 1865, that they were free. But it took more than two years for that news to reach the ears of those enslaved after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. While it took several more months for slavery to be abolished in 1865, a system known as convict leasing had emerged in Southern states where Blacks were forced into unpaid labor. Historians note that these factors along with ongoing research provide evidence of how slavery played a major role in building this nation's economy. Moreover, some experts argue that slavery, mixed with a host of other discriminatory, economic practices like redlining and segregation, contribute to an already large racial wealth gap that continues to grow even wider. Complicating matters, state lawmakers have proposed legislation that attempt to regulate how teachers and educators can discuss those histories in classrooms across the country. Stay tuned as I SEE U takes a provocative look at Juneteenth. We invite the renowned schoolteacher and counselor who was the driving force in making Juneteenth a national holiday, 95-year-old Opal Lee. We'll also examine the commercialization of this holiday and what efforts are needed for progress with an unguarded chat with Morgan State University's Journalism Professor, Dr. Jared Ball; and President/CEO of Center of Black Equity in Washington, D.C., Earl D. Fowlkes, Jr.


This article is part of the I SEE U with Eddie Robinson podcast

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Eddie Robinson

Eddie Robinson

Executive Producer & Host, I SEE U

A native of Mississippi, Eddie started his radio career as a 10th grader, working as a music jock for a 100,000-Watt (Pop) FM station and a Country AM station simultaneously. While Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus had nominated him for the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991, Eddie had an extreme passion...

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