July the Summer of Independence

4TH OF JULY - Hooray for the Red, White and Blue

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During the month of June, African Americans led Juneteenth celebrations, also called Freedom Day celebrations, across the United States as this much deserved occasion is acknowledged annually. This year legislation was finally passed to make June 19th a National Holiday. Likewise, July 4th ushered in another occasion for most Americans in some form or fashion, to celebrate Independence Day, as a holiday in the United States of America that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson on July 4, 1776. The quest for independence began in the 1700s after several issues arose that caused an estimated 2.5 million European settlers to become dissatisfied with British Rule. The settlers were primarily angered over taxation without representation, The Stamp Act, and the Townshend Act. The enforcement of these acts by the British and the mounting tensions from the settlers led to the American Revolutionary War which lasted from 1775 to 1783. The full and formal Declaration of Independence granted the original thirteen colonies their freedom from British rule, and was done so while a war between the two sides was being fought.

The 4th of July's freedom declaration led to the formation of the “United Colonies of America” which became the United States of America and came to be a federal holiday in the year 1870. Before the Civil War, white Americans from every corner of the country had annually marked the 4th of July with feasts and parades. However, for the African Americans this celebration was approached with considerably less enthusiasm.

We are reminded that Juneteenth freed the remaining enslaved in 1865, its affects would hinder the advancement of the African American for many more years. It stands to reason that Frederick Douglas posed this question, “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” Many feel it is a question that is still relevant to the African American today. Still others have used the national celebration of the country’s independence to remind White Americans that we are entitled to the guarantees given and celebrated with the 4th of July’s freedom declaration.

As with every year, the 4th of July is traditionally celebrated with fireworks displays, barbecues, patriotic parades, festivals, and other public events. Its decorative themes of red, white, and blue are in honor of the US flag, as well as a tribute to American troops and government institutions.

The government and its institutions are mandated to be put in place by the people--for the people. Freely, we the people elect our federal, state, and local governing bodies and support its institutions through taxation. In exchange, our federal, state, and local governments, its institutions, and its body of elected officials have an obligation and an accountability to the citizens that it represents. All levels of government are important and for the relationship between the constituents and elected officials to work beneficially, an understanding of the function and the role of the level of government that more closely governs is vital. Let’s take a quick look at our local government.

Briefly explained, a mayor is the elected leader of a municipal government. In the strong mayor form of government, the mayor is the chief executive officer of the city. In the council-manager form of government, the mayor is the leader of the city council and may in some instances, has no greater official authority than any other council member. Gastonia has operated under the council-manager form of government since 1919. Gastonia’s day-to-day administration is run by our City Manager while our mayor has the duty to preside over council meetings, provide leadership, receive input from constituents and make business decisions. The Mayor of Gastonia, per the City’s Charter, can vote on any issue presented to the City Council. A City Council is a group of elected officials who serve as the legislative body of a city.

Council members are tasked with representing the interests of their constituents. A short list of Council functions include:

· Review and approve the annual budget.

· Establish long- and short-term objectives and priorities.

· Oversee performance of the local public employees.

· Oversee effectiveness of programs.

· Establish tax rates.

· Enter into legal contracts.

· Borrow funds.

· Pass ordinances and resolutions.

· Modify the city’s charter.

· Regulate land use through zoning laws.

· Regulate business activity through licensing and regulations.

· Regulate public health and safety.

· Exercise the power of eminent domain.

· Communicate policies and programs to residents.

· Respond to constituent needs and complaints; and

· Represent the community to other levels of government.

Gastonia’s elected officials and their contact information are provided for your information. Their task is to serve as our local leadership. We have voted into office a cohesive blend of leaders who are genuinely dedicated to respond to and represent the needs of its Gaston County residents. You may feel differently, and I respect that opinion. Therein lies the beauty of democracy, it allows us to coexist inside our differences.

The 4th of July celebrations have ended with the hopes that each of you enjoyed the holiday. Before ending our feature story, the African American Museum of History and Culture wishes to salute our Veterans and their families and to thank you for the sacrifice made to ensure that America is protected, and our freedom is sustained!

Clara Rudisill-Odom, Editor and Carolyn Brown, Writer/Researcher

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Queen Charlotte Had African Roots - Or Did She?

According to the official website of UK Royals, born “Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz on 19 May 1744, Queen Charlotte was the youngest daughter of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Princess Elizabeth Albertina of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

The most popular proponent of the ‘Queen Charlotte had African roots’ theory is historian Mario De Valdes y Cocom. Cocom traces a long maze of genealogical roots to claim that “Queen Charlotte, wife of the English King George III, was directly descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a Black branch of the Portuguese Royal House.

Six different lines can be traced from English Queen Charlotte back to Margarita de Castro y Sousa, in a gene pool which because of royal inbreeding was already small, thus explaining the Queen’s unmistakable "African appearance.” As for the debate on her paintings varied, many say it depended on what the viewer wanted to see. Whether she had some African background is a highly debated point that cannot be DNA tested so a definitive answer is likely never to be found!!

Frederick Douglas - The Abolitionist

As we celebrate Independence Day, I cannot help but think of Frederick Douglas the abolitionist. He represented the plight of the African American and had great foresight and wrote and spoke to black and white audiences saying, "where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." That quote made so long ago is befitting to what is happening today. As I see with my own eyes and feel with my own heart, I am encouraged by the singing of the words from the Freedom Songs that would have us to continue "marching into freedom land."

You may wonder why to make such a statement when we have seen an African American male Barak Obama, serve eight years in the White House as the 44th President of The United States of America. Why make such a statement when Kamala Harris, African American woman, broke the "glass ceiling" to become the first Vice President of The United States of America? Why make such a statement when you know that Lloyd Austin, an African American, holds the highest military position in the United States of America? I could go on and on -- just describing African Americans' achievements and contributions. But I want to stop in order that I may leave you with this inspiring thought. As James Weldon and John Rosamond Johnson penned in their hymn, "Keep us forever in the path, we pray." Let us pray for the America that can look at every class, every man, woman and child as equal beneficiaries of freedom, and where justice is granted, and poverty is ended.

It gives me pleasure to announce that Charles Pearson, Museum Executive Board member, donated several paintings to the museum. Frederick Douglas was among the five donations. On July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York, Douglas was invited by the Ladies Anti-Slavery Society to make a speech. The title of that speech was "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" You will find this speech by clicking on the following link.

Scoring With Books - Reading Your Way to a Ballgame!

Thank you, CaroMont Health, for your Sponsorship!

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

-Jackie Robinson

On August 14, some boys and girls who are attending Book Camp sponsored by the African American Museum of History and Culture at Loray Mill, will go out to the ballgame!

CaroMont Medical has donated tickets to the Museum's Literacy Program, as an incentive for keeping our young people involved in books and reading programs.

The African American Museum of History and Culture - Loray Mill Celebrates Juneteenth Week

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The African American Museum of History and Culture is Represented in Juneteenth Parade Sponsored by The Elements of Empowerment

Pam Morgenstern drives her beautiful car adorned with the African American Museum of History and Culture magnets, while Mary Nichols Smith, a member of the Museum's Board of Directors, waves to the crowd.

NSPDK Inc. Epsilon Sigma Chapter - G. R. A. B. Summer Readers (Great Reading African American Books!)

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The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Summer Reading Club and The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Team of Volunteers

Volunteers from The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee sharing the CSK Book Awards with Gaston County via Zoom at the African American Museum of History and Culture at Loray Mill. Dr. Brenda Annisette, CSK Book Awards Chair(standing in front of the bookcase). Loretta Dowell on monitor, talks about Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, after sharing the story.

The museum would like to thank Nick Glass, CEO of Teachingbooks.net, for his partnership and database resource listed on our website.

Please join us on Wednesdays at 1:30pm, for this great program and readers.

Freedom Day at Congo Square

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Summer Reading sessions are in full swing. On June 23rd, our CSK Reader, Ida Thompson, from Columbia, SC read the children's book, "Freedom in Congo Square," aka the Louis Armstrong Park, where the enslaved looked forward through their weeklong work to the one day of freedom granted to them. On Sunday, for at least half a day the enslaved gathered in Congo Square and ate, played music, danced, sang, and rejoiced with each other. It was a time to remember their native homes, their family and friends, their culture and language.

This type of celebratory gathering is somewhat linked to the Maafa Commemoration. Maafa is a Kiswahili term for disaster, calamity, or terrible occurrence. This term is used to describe the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade/Middle Passage. It is an event for people of African Descent to honor the ancestors who suffered and survived through the middle passage and the lives that continue to be compromised due to racism and oppression. This year, Board Member, Clara Odom visited Congo Square in New Orleans on July 3rd to find the annual Maafa Commemoration in progress, an event hosted by the Ashe’ Cultural Arts Center, New Orleans LA. We bring to you a message about their event from the center's Chief Equity Officer, Asali Devan Ecclesiastes.

Summer Olympics 2021 - Remembering Major Taylor, an African American Champion Cyclist

The African American Museum of History and Culture at Loray Mill is an approved 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. We encourage monetary donations, documents and artifacts that promote Black life, history and culture at the local, regional and national level. And, we are led by a Planning Board of highly qualified people governed by Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. Your generous gift will help to support the children, young adults and adults programming, special exhibits, and displays offered by the museum

If you would like to make a donation, please click on our website and following instructions provided by the Donate Button.
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For Your Generous Patronage, The African American Museum of History and Culture at Loray Mill thanks you for all donations and your continued support!


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