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    HomeNewsWeHo City Hosts Flag-Raising Ceremony in Recognition of Juneteenth

    WeHo City Hosts Flag-Raising Ceremony in Recognition of Juneteenth

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    The City of West Hollywood hosted a Flag-Raising Ceremony in recognition of Juneteenth on Friday, June 16, 2023, at West Hollywood City Hall. The event was lead by Community Programs Coordinator, Jasmine Duckworth. Speakers included Council Member Lauren Meister who was the only member of the West Hollywood City Council at the event, Public Safety Commission Chair Tod Hallman, and the main speaker was Friendly House Executive Director, Christina Simos.

    Christina Simos – West Hollywood Juneteenth Ceremony – WEHO TIMES

    The Ceremony commemorated and honored the historical significance of Juneteenth, which is also called Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day and is recognized on June 19 of each year. This marks the date when some of the last enslaved people in the Confederacy were notified of their freedom on June 19, 1865. Juneteenth is recognized annually to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States and represents a special day of reflection.

    Below is Christina Simos’ entire speech:

    Freeish since 1865

    Freeish since 1865. I saw this shirt and I had to buy it. I felt that to my core. First, I want to thank Councilmember Byers for inviting me here today and the City of West Hollywood for acknowledging Juneteenth. Because no one educated me growing up on what Juneteenth was. No one around me recognized this day as being significant. I definitely did not hear about this day in school. So to be here today is an honor and a privilege.

    My name is Christina Simos, my pronouns are she/her/hers. I am a Queer woman of culture and one of the few women of culture to hold an Executive level position in my field.

    I am a lifelong learner, a woman in long term recovery, celebrating 18 years of not having to say oops I did it again. I have been a resident of West Hollywood for the past 24 years and I also identify as a threat to the status quo.

    Back to the term Freeish. Let’s talk about Juneteenth. On Jan.1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation proclamation declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” He knew he wasn’t winning the war with them. More than 200,000 black soldiers and sailors fought for freedom during the Civil War but not all slaves were free. It wasn’t until the 13th Amendment was passed in 1865 abolishing slavery that Emancipation became National Policy. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, and by the House on January 31, 1865

    The 13th Amendment said:
    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Freeish . . .

    It was June 19th, 1865 when the last of the slaves were freed by union troops in Galveston Bay, Texas. This day became known as Juneteenth and marks our country’s second independence day. It also marks never giving up hope.

    Here is where the story is supposed to get good right?

    Freeish . . . I wish I could say it was that day that black people were free. But history (the one that they don’t want us to talk about or teach in our schools) tells a different story. I’m not going to talk about the fact that shortly after 1865 some states passed black codes that severely limited the rights of Black people, many of whom had been enslaved. These codes limited what jobs black people could hold, and their ability to leave a job once hired. Some states also restricted the kind of property Black people could own. Sound familiar? Redlining . . .

    The Reconstruction Act of 1867 was supposed to give black people more freedom but it did not.

    The 14th Amendment gave black men the right to vote but many encountered voter restrictions, unfair policies, threats of violence and even death limiting their voter power.
    Sidebar that women didn’t get that right until 1920. . .

    Every time black americans made gains, new laws and policies were created limiting their freedom. Sound familiar?

    Separate but Equal facilities made discrimination and segregation legal until the Civil Rights Act of 1964

    You see the pattern. . .

    But we had Obama right?

    Then what happened after Hope took the mainstage?

    That guy who I will not name. George Floyd and the other countless senseless acts of domestic terrorism ensued.

    Land of the free and home of the brave. January 6th . . .

    Freeish. This day was supposed to be an “Act of Justice and as Lincoln said: “A King’s cure for all the evils.”
    Today it’s just a reminder to me that I’m not free and that none of us are free until all of us are free.

    Right now we are under attack. Spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially. We’re banning books and words but not guns. The Supreme Court has rolled back women’s rights and it’s now deciding the fate of affirmative action. There is legislation that has restricted the rights of voters, we’ve declared the word diversity illegal to use in some states and there are over 400 anti-gay anti-lgtbq pieces of legislation being introduced all over the country. And even though we’ve seen the power of our voices, the power of our votes, many of us feel disenfranchised and hopeless.

    I don’t want to be freeish. I sit before you navigating freedom through oppression. Here is what I had to get clear about and really accept before I could find hope again. This system is not meant for me to succeed. But every time I show up and I am who I am, I move the needle. Because you can’t unsee me. When you see me, when you really see me, you have no choice but to question your belief system.

    This system wants people to stay uneducated, stay poor, stay disenfranchised, stay complicit, get just enough to get by but never enough to be free. This system wants us to stay in “our” place. BUT my place, our place is steeped in equality, in freedom, in opportunity, in unity and in love and co-conspiring with the Creator for a better day. My great uncle was a share-cropper in South Carolina. My grandmother left school to pick cotton. I’m standing on their shoulders with an understanding that if we don’t band together and become louder than them, we will continue to see them try to erode and erase our progress – to erode and erase us.

    I am apart of many different organizations, groups, committees and all of them are fighting for the same or similar things. Separately. Again the system has set it up so that we don’t trust each other, we are afraid of each other, we fear not having enough so we hoard whatever we can get. We deal with internalized racism, homophobia, misogyny, intergenerational trauma – TRAUMA. It is a lot just to get up and get out of the house on some days. The blood of my ancestors courses through me. It remembers. It tells me that you’re a threat, speaking up is a threat and the reality of it is, it’s dangerous to speak up and speak out. But it’s more dangerous to continue on as we have – Separately.

    The Civil Rights movement wasn’t done by one group. It was done by bringing all of us together. As Dr. King said: Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere. As long as we are separate, we will never be equal. We will never be free. Our power is in numbers. Our power is the collective voice that says not today satan. Not Today. . .

    We have to see each other and heal each other and be with each other. It can’t be blacks just helping blacks, gays just helping gays, women just helping women, Latinx just helping Latinx. Our leaders need to join forces. We outnumber the small minority of bad energy that is out there. If we are as intentional and as strategic as they have been, we can stop this nonsense.

    This is the work now. How do we come together? There is something every single one of us can do to heal ourselves, each other and this nation. It has to be sustained work, they are not letting up and neither can we.

    I don’t want my son to be freeish. I don’t want to be freeish. I don’t want you to be freeish. Even though it feels like we are not making headway, we are. These folks are scared, that’s why they are trying to shut it all down. We are on the precipice of revolutionary change. What we are doing is working, we just need to organize and work together. And if we can do it together, future generations will be free and I’ll stop wanting to move to Switzerland.

    Angela Manuel Davis said that each of us was born on purpose, in purpose, for a purpose. We are more than our circumstance, our bank accounts, our work. We are all energy, all connected and everything we do matters. On this day, I remember all of those who sacrificed to get me here. To give me an opportunity to hopefully inspire you to be what the Universe has intended you to be and to seek your purpose. Because that is the freedom that will liberate us all.

    Thank you and happy freeish day…

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    Paulo Murillo
    Paulo Murillohttps://wehotimes.com
    Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, which include the “Hot Topic” column in Frontiers magazine, where he covered breaking news and local events in West Hollywood. He can be reached at [email protected]


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    1 year ago

    Does anyone recall what the city did in honor of Memorial Day this year? Was there a ceremony?

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