Activists from the Black community gathered in Providence, R.I., June 19, with allies to commemorate Emancipation Day, also known as Juneteenth. The diverse event was organized by Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) which has long-standing roots in the community grounded in political action.

From left: Susan Mortimer, Solidarity with the Incarcerated RI/MA; John Prince, Behind the Wall; Martha Yager, DARE; mYia X, Workers World Party. Photo Credit: Debra M. Harris.

DARE has been commemorating Emancipation Day for over a decade. They are actively engaged in housing rights, prison abolitionist work and work against gentrification. One of their caucuses, Behind the Wall, is made up of formerly incarcerated people who meet regularly to discuss issues that impact them.

The day was marked with music, speakers and various tables including arts and crafts for the children. A table staffed by Workers World Party and Solidarity with the Incarcerated, RI/MA, was a big attraction with a display of revolutionary literature and newspapers.

mYia X, who helped staff the table, spoke at the rally: “Let us not be distracted by the performative actions of Biden yesterday. [Biden had signed Juneteenth as a federal holiday.] The system has always known about John Brown and the significance of the raid at Harpers Ferry. It was probably one of the impetuses that forced [President Abraham] Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Because Lincoln did not believe that the enslaved were equal to the white race. He said, ‘I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races . . .’

“There is this illusion that there was freedom in the North. But Rhode Island made more trips than all the 13 colonies combined on the TransAtlantic slave trade route,” mYia X stressed.

According to SmallStateBigHistory.com, during the colonial period from 1751 to 1775, Rhode Island sent 514 slave ships to the coast of West Africa (the rest of the colonies sent 189). Its slave traders sent 383 slave ships transporting more than 40,000 enslaved Africans to the Americas. All other colonies combined sent 132 slave ships with less than 18,000 enslaved people. (tinyurl.com/ce68wmxc)

In addition, mYia spoke about the importance of continuing the push to free political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal, Mutulu Shakur, Russell Maroon Shoatz, Leonard Peltier, Sundiata Acoli, Ruchell Cinque Magee and many others. “As abolitionists, we must advance the struggle to abolish capitalism and end mass incarceration. We must continue to raise awareness to stop companies like Securus, Smart Communications and Keefe from superexploiting the families and loved ones of the incarcerated through phone calls, mail, computers and supplies,” she said.

Activist and longtime member of Behind the Wall, Providence, John Prince quoted Malcolm X: “If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word freedom out of your vocabulary. . . .”

 

Spiritual lyrics by a slave, African American Union soldier

or

emancipated former slave

No more auction block for me

No more, no more

No more auction block for me

Many thousand gone

No more auction block for me

No more, no more

No more auction block for me

Many thousand gone

No more peck of corn for me

No more, no more

No more peck of corn for me

Many thousand gone

No more driver’s lash for me

No more, no more

No more drivers’ lash for me

Many thousand gone

No more pint of salt for me

No more, no more

No more pint of salt for me

Many thousand gone

No more hundred lash for me

No more, no more

No more hundred lash for me

Many thousand gone

No more mistress call for me

No more, no more

No more mistress call for me

Many thousand gone

No more children stole from me

No more, no more

No more children stole from me

Many thousand gone

No more slavery chains for me

No more, no more

No more slavery chains for me

Many thousand gone 

Workers World Boston bureau

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Workers World Boston bureau

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