On June 19, 1865 – 156 years ago – slaves in Galveston, Texas received news that the Civil War had ended and they were free. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, it took more than two years for that news to reach Texas.
For example, June 19, 1865, is a constant reminder to African Americans of how freedom and justice have been delayed in the United States. Even after General Gordon Granger invaded Galveston, some slave masters held the information with their slaves for use in illegally harvesting further crops.
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Slavery left trauma that permeated every aspect of American life, from housing, wealth, and family life to educational opportunities. St. Philip’s College, like other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), was founded to provide black Americans with an opportunity for higher education.
But inequalities in access persist due to the rising cost of post-secondary education. Seeking to fill the funding gap, The Links Incorporated’s San Antonio Chapter recently awarded scholarships to 11 outstanding students to help them reach their next milestones and ease the burden of college debt. These worthy recipients include:
- Keith Baker (John Jay Science and Engineering Academy), who will attend Northeastern University;
- Dominique Battles (East Central High School), who will attend the University of Texas at Austin;
- Brittney Carson (James Madison High School), who will attend St. Philip’s College;
- Imani Evans (Tom C. Clark High School), who is considering both Spelman College and Baylor University;
- Corinthian Ewesuedo (Keystone School), who will attend Case Western Reserve University;
- Jasmine E. Forbes (Byron P. Steele II High School), who will attend Spelman College;
- Chyna Smith (St Philip’s College Early College High School), who will attend Prairie View A&M University;
- Kailynn Williams (Communication Arts High School), who will attend Xavier University;
- Joy Williams (Sam Houston High School), who will attend Texas Southern University; Regan Wilson (Claudia Taylor Johnson High School), who will attend Florida A&M University;
- and Melvin Wrightsil (Sam Houston High School), who will attend Vanderbilt University.
San Antonio member Karen Trotty Douglas with Melvin Wrightsil, one of the 11 fellows. Recognition: San Antonio Chapter from The Links Incorporated
The San Antonio Chapter of the Links has been awarding scholarships to students for several decades and in 2020 celebrated its 60th anniversary in the service of San Antonio, donating to other organizations that help with food insecurity and homelessness and provide resources for the needy.
It wasn’t until this year (just days before this article was published) that President Joe Biden signed a bill that changed the 19th. The U.S. Department of Human Resources announced that most federal employees will observe the June 18th holiday, since the 10th June falls on a Saturday this year.
We honor June 19th because it is important that the local church understand the significance of that date. If we hope our children are better than us, we must teach them not to repeat our past mistakes. We have to invest in them. Slavery has prospered many families, but destroyed generations of so many other people.
Even after 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation could not erase the racism and hatred that founded slavery. We see this today through acts designed to dominate and subdue people of color rather than uplifting and motivating them. When a black-owned business is denied capital, COVID-19 vaccines are not available in low-income areas, the prison system is mostly filled with colored people, or a teacher believes a student will do poorly in their class because they are black , these are all actions designed to subjugate or dominate.
Juneteenth is a day that was a symbolic end to captivity. But 400 years since slavery began in America, we still have much work to do to clear our spirits and create just opportunities for all. Our work continues with our children who want to get better.
To learn more about The Links, Incorporated’s San Antonio Chapter, visit us at www.sanantoniolinks.org.