Clipped From Lansing State Journal
Jimeteeetfa: Celebration - to ease cultural divisions Continued From ID a week baby sitting two white boys. For her efforts, she took home $5. One of the boys, a 6-year-old, liked her but didn't know how to say it. "God wants you to love everybody whether you're a white n or a colored n ," Owens recalled the boy saying. The boy was trying to be nice, Owens explained, but he was hampered by the language he had been taught. This was Owens' world. It wasn't until she attended Florida Memorial College, then in St. Augustine, Fla., that she met whites who showed any compassion for the black community. Their kindness balanced the daily humiliation of Florida's public buses. "To see white, young men take the seats of old, black people and people with babies," she said. "I had feelings that I would hate." In 1964, she moved to East Lansing and began teaching in the Okemos School District. The exposure to Okemos was another eye-opener. "I had no idea there were poor white people," she said. Elms-Barclay grew up in the white suburbs of Littleton, Colo., and Southern California. The only African-American she knew was Minnie, who cleaned her grandmother's house. She never thought much about race until she was 10, traveling with her family across the desert from California to Colorado. Her father pulled out to pass a car that had driven for miles with a blinker stuck on. Elms-Barclay was riding in the front seat and rolled down her window to tell the African-American family in the slower car that their turn signal was on. The family took one look at her and faced forward, refusing to turn toward her. She never talked with her parents about the incident, but still today is bothered by the memory. "I just wanted to tell them that their blinker was on," she said. "I was so surprised as a child that they would think I would say something hurtful It makes me want to cry now." Throughout her life, Elms-Barclay made an effort to learn about people of other races. She realizes being white means having privilege. Owens' eyes have opened, as well "They're not all rich and wealthy. They don't all hate us," she said. "They have problems like we have." Juneteenth in context 1 1510: African slaves are introduced into Europe and the Americas. 1 1619: Regular slave trade established between Africa and North America. 1 1775: By the end of this year, the English colonies contain 500,000 slaves. Most live south of Maryland, but shippers in the northern colonies participate in the slave trade. I July 4, 1776: Americans declare their independence from British rule by adopting the Declaration of Independence, which in part states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The Founding Fathers, however, don't adhere to their own words and slavery continues. 1832: The United States' system of slave breeding is so successful that Virginia is able to export 6,000 slaves. 1 1860: Slave population climbs to more than 3 million. For perspective on the size of that population, imagine the enslavement of every third person in Michigan. Jan. 1, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln issues the edict known as the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in some states and Confederate lands. In Texas and other parts of the Confederacy, news of the edict is not shared with slaves. Without Union To see white, young men take the seats of old, black people and people with babies. I had feelings that I would hate!' Carrie Owens Haslett resident who grew up amid racism in the South Just sitting together one afternoon at lunch showed how Owens and Elms-Barclay continue to teach each other. Elms-Barclay had never heard Owens' story about the 6-year-old boy. Elms-Barclay gained insight into the complexity of the segregated South in which her friend was reared. "It's the reason it's important to have a dialogue," Elms-Barclay said. Owens and Elms-Barclay certainly don't always agree, and yet they respect each other and are friends. Elms-Barclay empathizes with blacks. Owens appreciates the effort and doesn't make her friend Army enforcement, slavery continues. June 19, 1865: Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rides into Galveston, Texas, and orders all slaves freed. Two days later, the Galveston Daily News carries the order on its front page. Dec. 6, 1865: Congress ratifies 13th Amendment, which abolishes slavery. Sources: Encyclopedia Americana; "The World Almanac," 2003, and the Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas Leam more l www.juneteenth.com: Information on Juneteenth history and celebrations around the country. www.tsha.utexas.eduhandbook onlineindex.html: The Handbook of Texas Online. Search for information about Juneteenth. www.cadl.org: Search the library catalog at the Capital Area District Library site. Here are some books librarians recommend: I "Juneteenth: Freedom Day": A 1998 children's book by Muriel Miller Branch "Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom": A 2002 children's book by Charles A. Taylor They said it "In accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free." Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, Galveston, Texas, June 19, 1865 Source: From the front page of the June 21, 1865 issue of "Galveston Dally News" provided by Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas. feel stupid, if she were to slip in Owens' opinion and say George W. Bush won the presidential election. "I voted for George Bush," Elms-Barclay said. "The worst mistake of your life," Owens shot back. Owens is convinced Bush stole the election. "Oh, he did," she said and gave her friend the tiniest head wag to emphasize the point "I went to the Internet and got all the facts," Elms-Barclay said, and added for her friend's sake, "as mentioned in the white press." "By white people," Owens said. Their argument went on, each jabbing at the other, Elms-Barclay dryly and Owens sarcastically. Mid-sentence, Owens grabbed her friend's hand in a gesture of friendship and they both smiled. The barbs continued, though, until Elms-Barclay said: "I've learned enough in this journey of mine to know there is a very strong probability that Carrie is right. "There's a probability, but that's the difference." "I still love Suzanne," Owens said. Contact Christine Rook at 377-1261 or clrookbj.com.