Friday, June 19, 2015 – The Sesquicentennial of Juneteenth
It is the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth in Texas – The day slaves in Texas learned of The Emancipation Proclamation. Communications must have really been poor back then because the Emancipation Proclamation was passed two years before.
To the best of my knowledge neither my sister nor I have ever considered ourselves Black or transracial – whatever that is. Am I the only one not understanding? Anyway…
Those photographs were taken in 1971 at Old Rose’s home in Flora, Louisiana. Rose could neither read nor write, signed her name with an X and we guess her age in the photographs to be at least 100 years old. We knew her parents had been slaves in Louisiana and she was one of the first of their children to be born as a free person – in spite of Jim Crow Laws and Poll Tax and Louisiana. My father paid her 50 cents per week during The Depression.
I first met Rose when I was about five years old. That fall my sister had been crowned Magnolia High School Homecoming Queen. Her photograph was in The Conroe Courier. During a Christmas visit to Louisiana my father gave Rose a copy. When Rose saw it, she screamed – “Oh my Baby is the Queen of Texas!” As the story goes, Rose kept the clipping in her purse for decades and showed it to everybody who would listen.
But then HB said to her, “Rose, we have one more thing.” He gently pushed me toward the old woman and said “Tell her your name.” When I said, “Delia,” he said, “Tell her your full name.” When I said, “Delia Rose,” she fell back into a chair and screamed “Lawdy, Mr. Duffey! You done named yore baby after ME!” We never told her anything different.
I was always told I was named after my father’s mother, Rose, but hey, maybe I was named after Old Rose and maybe my parents never told me any different either.
So today we celebrate the Rose Pages of the world and the 150th anniversary of Freedom in Texas. Yet, our hearts lie heavy in Charleston and we know we must work together to achieve freedom for all.