From a Woman’s POV feels privileged for all of us to celebrate Juneteenth and to speak with NIKKI GIOVANNI on this day. It took months for the message of the proclamation to spread through the land, but as NIKKI GIOVANNI, the shows first guest, says in her poem “The American Vision of Abraham Lincoln on the Lincoln Memorial”
At this moment
Resting in the comfort of the statue
Of the 16th president of the United States
An equally impressive representation
Of his friend and adviser
On this day
Recalling the difficult and divisive war
We are compelled
With a prayer in the name
Of those captured and enslaved
Who with heart and mind
Cleared the wilderness
Brought forth families
Submitted their souls
Before a merciful and great God
To acknowledge that that The Civil War
Was fought not to free the enslaved
For they knew they were free
But to free the nation
From a terrible cancer eating at our hearts…
(from Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni).
Freedom Summer – Mississippi 1964
It might have taken months for the message to spread through the land, but it has taken years – and it will continue to take years for that truth in our heart to be lived in our daily deeds. History does not give meaning to those truths, people do. People lived and died to give meaning to that dream – and Mississippi in the summer of 1964 perhaps tested that dream more than any other time. GWENDOLYN ZOHARAH SIMMONS, a young college student, was the director of the Laurel Project in Mississippi in 1964. She will recount that time and we will see, we will live with a person who lives the dream.
And in this time when the challenge to freedom continues in every area, it is good to be reminded no one can give us freedom, but there are some who will try to take it away.
“Freedom Summer” will be shown on American Experience on PBS Tuesday, June 24 from 9-11 pm.