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Freedom Deferred


For those who have no taste for it, history feels abstract. Supposedly it belongs to the past and isn't "relevant" to the special little bubble we call the here and now. But history breathes; it informs every moment of our lives. And the decisive turns of the past can never be taken for granted, as if they just happened -- presto -- with everything falling neatly into place. So when President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, it meant that African Americans could henceforth no longer be treated as property. They were freed from slavery -- on paper only. In reality, Lincoln lacked the federal manpower to enforce his executive order, and a law minus the teeth of enforcement is largely worthless. Not until June 19, 1865, two full months after the South surrendered to the Union, did slavery actually end on a widespread, meaningful scale; the momentous date is celebrated every year as Juneteenth. Here in our history-rich city you can join in honoring the occasion with the Juneteenth Celebration at 3 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or Kreative Pandemonium, a performance ensemble, powers the entertainment with a gumbo comprising the traditional instruments of West Africa along with gospel, jazz, soul, rumba and samba. The free event takes place in the museum's Lee Auditorium.
Sun., June 16, 2013