On June 19, a group of friends and I congregated in the Westward and Carver Benevolence Club. We reflected on the significance of Juneteenth and what it meant to us in our formative years and what it means today.

Many of us were raised in different parts of the country and in different states, but we all have similar memories of that day. What we remembered most was the “fun” that was afforded us as we celebrated the fact that June 19 represented “freedom” for all of us.

After decades, on June 19, 2019, Congress held hearings on reparations for descendants of slaves. The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, stated that reparations aren’t a good idea because we elected an African American president. Does McConnell think that people in this country who pay attention to political issues have forgotten that during the African-American president’s inauguration, he held a meeting with his followers to pledge to do everything in their power to make certain that the African-American president would only serve as a one-term president?

The rest is history, and we haven’t forgotten. Mitch McConnell’s remark wasn’t rebuffed by a single Republican. I want to ask: “What’s up with that?”

Since that time, from the mouth of the serving president, political observers have heard that five innocent minority men, known as the Central Park Five, who as teenagers were wrongfully convicted and served time for a horrible crime that they didn’t commit, and who subsequently were found innocent and released from prison should be put to death for the “non-committed crime,” anyway. Thank God that we can now call them the “Exonerated Five.”

We’ve also heard him use racial slurs when referring to an African American NFL player, and we witnessed his administration walk back the endorsed plan from the African American president to engrave the $20 bill with the image of Harriet Tubman.

With actions like these from America’s leaders, my sainted grandmother would say, “Whatever is in the well will come up in the bucket.” Quoting from the Bible, she would say: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew, 6:21.

My father and his brothers, of whom there were four, worked hard in order to care for their families. In The Settlement, work ethics were passed down through generations. Galveston County is what it is today because of the labor of African Americans who worked and paid their fair share for everything they received. My great-great-grandfather was a freed slave, who served in the Union Army in 1867, and worked as a blacksmith in this state.

In addition to hard work, we were taught to serve God. That’s the reason that my generation isn’t deceived by the actions of our politicians. We know who the True God is and will never bow down to McConnell or Trump. We will stand firm, pray, and vote.

The Rev. James E. Daniels is founder and chairman of the Eagle’s Nest Community Organization and lives in Texas City.

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(13) comments

Carlos Ponce

Daniels, your column is a mixture of truth, stretches of the truth and many obfuscations. What did Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell say about reparation? "I don't think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea. We tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation, elected an African American president. I don't think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it. First of all, it would be hard to figure out whom to compensate." Looks like you got one part right and ignored the rest of his statement. And President Trump did use a metaphor in referring to any NFL member who disrespected the American Flag or Anthem in public during a football game. He did not specify just "an African American" but ANY NFL member. He did not single out one race. Trump recommends Harriet Tubman's likeness be placed on folding currency but not the twenty. He's an Andrew Jackson fan and had Jackson's portrait moved to the Oval Office. Will Harriet Tubman's likeness be on currency? Yes, but not until later. She was born in 1822. Maybe it will be out on the 200th anniversary of her birthday in 2022 as some have suggested.

Paula Flinn

Thank you, Reverend Daniels, for another thoughtful column and for sharing your story of your great-great-grandfather and family. Juneteenth is important to all of us. It represents freedom. And freedom for one group of people should mean freedom for all. Perhaps there will be another President elected who won’t revere Pres. Andrew Jackson, especially his treatment of Native Americans. and who will allow Harriet Tubman on one of our bills. But for right now we are firm in our beliefs and praying. Soon we will be able to vote.

Bailey Jones

McConnell is right, it was a long time ago, and everyone involved is dead now. That's why I don't celebrate July 4th. That was such a long time ago, all those guys are dead. What possible effect could it still have on me today? It's the same with the Constitutional Convention of 1787 - a long time ago, all dead now. The words written then certainly haven't influenced my life in any way. The Wright Brothers? Phhhhht - both dead, their legacy in no way connected to what we do today up the road at NASA. What does D-Day matter? I guess a handful of those guys are still alive, but whatever it was they did will soon be made irrelevant - just as soon as the rest of them die. History matters. It matters to individuals because it is the foundation our lives are built on. It matters to our country because, unlike those slaves who suffered and the slave masters who inflicted that suffering so many years ago, America isn't dead. America is alive and somewhat well, but she still carries the wound from the greatest sin one people can inflict on another. It festers. It stinks. It needs to be healed.

Carlos Ponce

"but she still carries the wound from the greatest sin one people can inflict on another." The United States inherited slavery from their European forebears. The mistreatment of Native Americans ( ie. Indian Wars) however seems to be the greatest sin. You want to pay reparations then write the check if your ancestors are responsible. As for me and mine, our family did not enter the United States until 1925 so I won't be writing a check. By the way, Barack Obama's American ancestors were slave owners so he'll be writing a check too. Kamala Harris' ancestors owned slaves in Jamaica. Do you count that?

Bailey Jones

"our family did not enter the United States until 1925 so I won't be writing a check" But you still want the benefits from everything that happened before 1925, right? That's a sweet deal. No wonder so many people immigrate here.

Carlos Ponce

I want want the benefits from everything that was on the books and added since 1925.

Gary Miller

Bailey. I think the privilege of being a US citizen should be enough 'compensation'. My native American ancestors were not citizens and were treated worse than slaves. All my life I have been compensated by being a Citizen, with full rights, of the US. Don't you think citizenship is worth something?

Bailey Jones

Hmmm, well Gary, when you put it that way... I'll to come to your house and kidnap you and lock you in the stinking cargo hold of my ship and take you across the ocean, where I'll strip you of every aspect of your humanity, including your language, culture, religion, and all family ties, then you and the children that I force you to breed will be bought and sold and worked (and legally classified) as animals, as I see fit, without pay, from birth until death, under my overseer's whip, for generations, and my compensation to you for all of this is that I'll allow your great-great-grandchildren to be grateful for being made citizens (second class citizens for the 1st 100 years or so, then full citizens). We good? Great - when can I sign you up?

Carlos Ponce

"I'll to come to your house and kidnap you..." History teaches us that Africans kidnapped and enslaved other Africans who sold them to European and later American slave traders. Governor Bernardo de Galvez bought slaves and imported them to Spanish Louisiana. I think they named an island after him. You Galvestonians who live on an island named for a slave importer, how do you feel about that? Are you going to knock that statue down and rename the island????

Bailey Jones

Carlos, slavery is as American as miscegenation and tacos. Why would we tear down Galvez's statue? It's not like he ever took up arms against the US, in fact, he was a terrific ally during the revolutionary war (before your family's time, I know). Save the tear downs for traitors. (BTW - if you're offering to deliver your fellow conservative to the island for transport, I'm sure I can arrange an attractive finders fee.)

Carlos Ponce

Okay Bailey, wee get it. You like living on an island and in a city named after a foreign governor of Louisiana who procured slaves. By the way they want to tear down Thomas Jefferson's statues and Memorials because he owned slaves... He did not take up arms against the United States either.[whistling]

Charles Hughes

I'm not understanding your post Mr. Miller.Were your native ancestors indian?If so,weren't they the first true citizens. Also you say they were treated worse than slaves.I don't know.I don't think most of the regulars commenting on this site know or care to know the true and real history of this country.It was more evil and ugly than portrayed in standard history books.I don't think this reparation's thing is going to gain any traction.Just look at some of the comments here.Now add to that the racists and bigots and you'll see why.If the movement did succeed,How would it be implemented.I wonder was it this much resistance when other groups like the japanese and jewish people etc. were paid reparations.

Charles Douglas

People say they have not forgotten what Mitch McConnell said, I can understand it. I have not forgotten what the Democrats did. They facilitated the institution of slavery in this country, and THEY started a grievous war to keep it! Joe HANDS Biden stated during Obama's term that the Republicans were going to put African-Americans back in chains! Nobody asked him who put African-Americans in chains to start with and a better question to have asked was ...WHO got African-Americans OUT of those chains the Democrats put them In! Lets keep the record straight and in perspective! None of this leftist fake-news stuff meant for those who can't read or who don't know better is registering with people like me. Joe HANDS Biden as well as Spartus, Aunt Maxine, Senator Harris, and others should know that many African-Americans and Hispanics are walking off the plantations where they are promised massive give a ways and free stuff, paid for with other people's money! They don't need a hand full of stand - ins to do their thinking and reasoning for them! Oh I've done the DNA SEARCH, and my ancestors comes from Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, to Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. God is my source and provider, and he told me to forgive, those I had ought against if I WANTED his forgiveness. So if this scam call reparation comes about, give mine to somebody else. All of my ancestors God is taken care of them now, if not they hell has swallowed them up. So I'm not owed a thing, but that's just me!

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