FROM THE OPINION SIDE – Rules, shades of red and all other colors are still working towards American Dream | opinion
Rules are not always the same and not everyone is treated equally. For example, the 1975 Cincinnati Reds were known as the “Big Red Machine” when the club was the top baseball player. The manager, George “Sparky” Anderson, was – and is – recognized as one of the best team leaders in the game. Interestingly, Anderson succeeded because he didn’t have a single set of rules for all players, which goes against the traditional standard that team guidelines are the same for everyone.
Anderson said, however, that four of his stars, including Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Pete Rose, “would have no rules”. The key was that Anderson knew the quartet would maintain high standards, remain committed to victory, and lead by example to show the rest of the team how to win. He was right, and the rest is baseball history.
Also historic is the newest federal holiday, June 19, approved today by both Houses of Congress (by unanimous approval in the Senate and 415-14 in the House of Representatives) and being the first designated federal holiday since 1983 when Martin Luther King Day was legally signed. In Virginia, Texas, New York, and Washington, the date is already a paid holiday for government employees. President Biden signed the law on Thursday.
His story is not without struggle and strife. Although Abraham Lincoln proposed the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862 and the law went into effect on January 1, 1863, African Americans (almost all slaves at the time) did not receive the benefits immediately. Even after the American Civil War / Inter-State War ended on April 9, 1865, there were still a significant number of the more than four million enslaved people who were denied actual freedom.
Finally, on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, US soldiers under the command of General Gordon Granger marched into the city and officially informed the last remaining people in bondage. In fact, it was the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865, that once and for all made slavery illegal in all states of the Union. Texas was one of the states of the old Southern Confederation and had about 250,000 slaves at one point.
Nonetheless, the first celebration of today’s “Juniteenth” took place in Texas in 1866. For nearly two decades, in the mid-20th century, in the years immediately prior to the start of World War II, the Texas State Fair was generally the best-known gathering place for a celebration of the event.
Much of that time was known as the days of “Jim Crow,” when the country guaranteed freedom and equal rights on paper, but in many places – north and south – those freedoms were restricted or denied. In the famous 1954 Brown v Board of Education ruling of the Supreme Court, when the Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional, it took Virginia more than a decade to fully comply with the law, and much of southern West Virginia was in essence equal .
Until the 1960s, the so-called “separate but equal” policy applied at train stations, in department stores, in cinemas and often also at public drinking fountains or even at petrol stations.
In his book “Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow”, author and social scientist Leon Litwack, professor at UCLA, explains the origin of the term. From the old minstrel shows, a man known as Thomas “Daddy” White used burnt cork to darken his face and changed into ill-fitting, tattered clothing that a beggar might wear. He sang, jumped, and played in a way many in the audience would believe a black American would, and the main music catchphrase for the act included the phrase “Jump Jim Crow” was a key to the term.
It soon spread and became part of the vocabulary and was often used to describe the racial segregation system prevalent in much of the nation. Coast to coast laws and customs followed a similar pattern. Despite the involvement of both black and brown troops in conflicts from the American Revolution to the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War, to World Wars I and II, all too often, equality for many has been found only on paper.
It has been called by a variety of names, including “America’s Second Independence Day” and “Anniversary Day,” and is undoubtedly referred to by opponents in terms unsuitable for a family newspaper.
Even so, in Cincinnati the machine was red and it worked very well. Let us hope and pray that in our future citizens of all races, beliefs, skin colors, religions and orientations will be accorded the fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution.
Larry Hypes, a teacher at Bluefield High School, is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at [email protected]