Juneteenth is a day of reflection, a day of renewal, a pride-filled day. It is a moment in time taken to appreciate the African American experience. It is inclusive of all races, ethnicities and nationalities - as nothing is more comforting than the hand of a friend.
Juneteenth is a day on which honor and respect is paid for the sufferings of slavery. It is a day on which we acknowledge the evils of slavery and its aftermath. On Juneteenth we talk about our history and realize because of it, there will forever be a bond between us.
On Juneteenth we think about that moment in time when the enslaved in Galveston, Texas received word of their freedom. We imagine the depth of their emotions, their jubilant dance and their fear of the unknown.
Juneteenth is a day that we commit to each other the needed support as family, friends and co-workers. It is a day we build coalitions that enhance African American economics.
On Juneteenth we come together young and old to listen, to learn and to refresh the drive to achieve. It is a day where we all take one step closer together - to better utilize the energy wasted on racism.
Juneteenth is a day that we pray for peace and liberty for all.
Somewhere in the state of Kentucky, a young boy slave was sold for a small sum of coins. This boy was so young that if he was given a name as a baby, he didn't remember it.
One thing he did remember; however, were the whipping of other slaves on certain days of the week. Although he didn't know one day from another, he believed the "whipping days" occurred on Sundays or Mondays. When the whipping days would come, this young boy was smart enough to run off into woods. For protection against both nature and man, he would take a double-edge axe along with him.
The boy, later named William Staples, was not a coward--nor was he a violent person. However, his taking the axe into the woods led people to believe that he was a crazy man. They thought this because when they would find him, he would threaten to kill them while demanding that they give them respect. This, in itself, was a courageous act. Who'd ever heard of a slave demanding respect. Largely because of his threats and demand for respect, he was never whipped, and ultimately his capturers let him go because he showed courage and strength.
There is no record of how or why William left Kentucky nor when he married Miss Abbey. We do know that he served in the Civil War after he became a free man and moved from Winona to Drew, Mississippi, in 1913.
The union of William and Abbey produced 12 children: seven sons: William, Warren, John, Jim, George, Joe and Matt; and five daughters daughters: Mary, Ella, Georgina, Kate and Alice.
Some of their children remember their father being a tall man in statue and strappingly built . He kept himself busy making and selling baskets up into his golden years. As previously mentioned, William Staples was known as a man of courage and promoter of peace. He lived by his motto, "Never kill a man, unless you have to." He would remove himself from pending trouble because he felt that humans lived a short time anyway and would die soon enough.
Memories of Miss Abbey are sweet and notable. She was a good wife and mother, an excellent homemaker, a midwife and a quilt maker.
William and Abbey loved their children and grandchildren. After the death of their daughter, Kate, sometime in 1919, they openly received and welcomed Kate's children into their home. William often shared with them, and many of his other grandchildren, stories of his life as a slave.
The offspring of William and Abbey lived in Drew, Mississippi, until 1929, when many of them moved to Mound Bayou, Mississippi. From there, they moved to various cities across the United States.
William and Abbey Staples were religious people. They served God as AME Methodists. The roots of our family continue to symbolize our character and personality today. (From the memory of Lester Staples, Sr.)
Note: We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Homer Trotter of Mound Bayou, Miss., who knew William well, and to Cicero Satterfield, for tracing our roots to the Archives of Washington, D.C. 17 years ago.
Dallas South: ">Why I Celebrate Juneteenth
Ultraviolet Underground: Remember Juneteenth
Black Perspectives: Today is Independence Day
Electronic Village: What is Juneteenth?
Slant Truth: Happy Juneteenth!
There Already: 163 Years Ago Today...
The Fort Wayne Blog: Juneteenth Celebration
All About Race: Juneteenth 2008