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Momentum
A blog from Medium about the fight against anti-Black racism.

THIS IS AMERICA

When it comes to racism and classism, Republicans aren’t the only offenders

Screenshot by the author of the Spouting Rock Beach Association (aka Bailey’s Beach Club) website

Last summer, Democrats rode the wave of what’s come to be known as America’s racial reckoning. White Democrats, in particular, went to great lengths to prove their “wokeness.” First, they paraded through the Capitol wearing Kente cloth, topped off by taking a Colin Kaepernick-inspired knee. Eventually, the attempts by the White political left to show their anti-racist bona fides bordered on pandering.

At the time, I tolerated it as I’m sure many others did. I knew a little performative pandering was par for the course politically. The sight of Reps. …


Attempts to dismiss critical race theory are part of a larger movement to ensure the lie of American history remains intact

Students raise their hands in a classroom. Photo: Getty Images

There’s a saying that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. It’s an apropos statement for where we are in America as the country wages a war on its education system for how its history will be taught. Or not taught. Right now, Republican Party members across the country are attempting to cover up the ills of America’s past by ensuring nobody discusses it in the present. And it’s not something anyone should be supporting.

Texas and Florida have been joined by eight other states in their quest to remove critical race theory from the classroom…


The Emancipation Trail riders cycled for about 55 miles of highways and trails between Galveston and Houston, Texas. Bikers took the route paved by freedmen who left Galveston after learning — two years after the fact — about the end of slavery. The route is now a National Historic Trail. Photos: Michael Starghill for Momentum/Medium

Texas freedmen walked away from plantation owners at the end of slavery. The Emancipation Trail ride covers the original June 19, 1865 route.

This essay is a special contribution to Momentum @ Medium by Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, also an avid cyclist. Scroll down for additional images of the ride, which started in Galveston and ended in Houston’s Emancipation Park.

Living in Texas, I have always felt connected to a special part of Black history in this country. It’s a complicated and difficult history of enslavement, oppression, and discrimination, but also of Black resistance, triumph, and joy. Juneteenth is emblematic of this complicated history. It marks the day that, on June 19, 1865, those who were enslaved in Texas finally learned about…


Little children play with hula hoops during a Juneteenth celebration in Durham, N.C. It’s a scene repeated city after city and state after state as even more people begin to celebrate the nation’s newest, federally-recognized holiday. Photo: Cornell Watson for Momentum

Momentum traveled to Detroit, Durham and Birmingham to document the holiday commemorating the slow end of slavery.

For many Black Americans, Juneteenth is the real Independence Day. It marks the date in 1865 — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation — when enslaved Texans were finally notified that they were free. Since then, on every Juneteenth in Texas and later, in other states, Black families come together and communities hold celebrations filled with music, dance, poetry, red foods, somber reflections and education. There are parades and concerts, festivals and fireworks. It’s a day of joy and rejoicing, of ancestral memory and dreams. Freedom.

Momentum enlisted the help of three photographers — one in Birmingham, one in Durham…


Instagram-ready: An installation reading “Free 1865” is surrounded by red, black, and green balloons at a Birmingham, Alabama, Juneteenth celebration. All images in this post taken by Joi West for Momentum at Medium.

File This Under: Black Joy

‘We unabashedly celebrate our Black joy as a form of resistance’

During a very stormy day, I photographed various Juneteenth celebrations across the Birmingham, Alabama, region. These events included a program at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, a small potluck hosted by Alabama Rally Against Injustice and Cell A65, and an intimate Juneteenth gathering hosted by my friend Brandi.

Seeing people of various ages and cultures celebrate Juneteenth, I realized that we have resilience against all odds. We unabashedly celebrate our Black joy as a form of resistance to those who have denied and still today deny our true freedom from slavery. We keep our oral history, memorialize our ancestors, and…


Willa was clapping along to the beat on her mommy’s shoulders while the drumline played a cadence. All images taken by Cornell Watson for Momentum at Medium.

File This Under: Black Joy

‘Juneteenth was a reminder that we are free from slavery but not from legalized discrimination’

This past weekend, I emptied out my camera bag and made space for diapers, wipes, and a few face masks. After a year-plus of quarantining, I strapped my three-year-old daughter into the car seat, and we headed out to our first post-Covid public gathering, a Juneteenth celebration. We decided to celebrate the first federally recognized Juneteenth in the historic Hayti community of Durham, North Carolina. Hayti was a flourishing community of businesses, churches, and schools built by freed Black people after the Civil War. In the 1960s and later, urban renewal destroyed 4,000 homes and 500 businesses in the neighborhood…


Juneteenth is officially a federal holiday. President Joe Biden signed the surprisingly bipartisan bill which passed unanimously in the Senate with only 14 House Republicans opposing it. Biden said Juneteenth National Independence Day, as it has been named, is an example of how “great nations don’t walk away. We come to terms with the mistakes we made […] and grow stronger.”

For the uninitiated, Juneteenth is shorthand for June 19, 1865. …


We check in with the lawyer — Greg Francis — who won the 2010 settlement

Black farmers have lost a lot of their land over the years. Photo: Getty Images

In 1920, there were nearly one million Black farmers in the United States representing 14% of all farmers in America. By 1997, there were barely more than 18,000, less than 1%. During that time, Black farmers accused the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) of race-based discrimination in the form of denying or delaying loans essential to all growers looking to maintain their farms and harvest each year.

While the number of Black farmers has more than doubled since 1997, Black people are still suffering from a century of disenfranchisement that has caused them to lose billions in profits.

“Once…


This week’s collection of the race-related stories you might have missed

Happy Juneteenth, everybody! By the time you read this, you’re probably on the cusp of celebrating when the day’s news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas. It’s just become a federal holiday, a move which is sure to be seen as a victory by some who have fought decades for it to be recognized. Whether you’re marking the day with some reflection time to yourself or a party with the red food and drink traditionally associated with the holiday, take a few minutes to read up on the ways Black folk continue to fight…


Black Art Matters

Travel down memory lane with one of the greatest photographers of all time

Photo from Gordon Parks’ exhibit “Hope in the Wilderness.”

In photographer Gordon Parks’ 1971 book Born Black, members of the Black Panther Party pose at their headquarters in Berkley, California; the Fontenelle family battles poverty; and men from the Fruit of Islam run drills with their arms outstretched in powerful black and white photos. The collection of images and essays commissioned by Life magazine, where Parks was the first African American staff photographer, covers critical moments and figures from 1960–1970, including Muhammad Ali’s 1966 fight with Londoner Henry Cooper and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 funeral.

The late Parks was a celebrated filmmaker, musician, and artist. Much of…

Momentum

A blog from Medium about the fight against anti-Black racism.

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