Speech read at our Juneteenth event on June 19th 2019 by BLM B-town Core Council Member Amrita Myers
Happy Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day. On June 19, 1865, enslaved men and women in Texas finally learned that they were free — several months after the end of the Civil War, and more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the rebelling states. Of course, it didn’t free those enslaved persons in states that remained loyal to the Union, like Maryland and Delaware, or those which remained neutral, like Kentucky. And since the Confederacy considered itself a sovereign nation and ignored the Emancipation Proclamation, the enslaved in those states had to become fugitives, running away from captivity to free themselves from bondage. Freedom was a long time coming. Some might say it still hasn’t fully arrived.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some places a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics, and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the afro-future.
Every June 19th since 1865, African Americans across the nation have held celebrations commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. For many African Americans, it is a more significant celebration than Independence Day.
Black Live Matter Bloomington believes that we should make Juneteenth a national holiday so that we can truly celebrate everyone’s freedom! Making Juneteenth a national holiday would go a long way towards recognizing not just the history of slavery in this country, but also the struggles freed Black folk endured during and after the Reconstruction, including the fight for civil rights and against the marginalization, incarceration and brutal state violence we still face today. We call for the city, county and the state to help to support and recognize efforts to establish Juneteenth as a national holiday and to promote collective celebrations by funding them as well as other black events and cultural festivals.
Our celebration of Juneteenth is a part of our community outreach and coalition initiatives. We seek to educate, engage and enjoy our town and community. Thank you all for coming out to eat, drink, dance, and engage in community discussions in our Speak Out area. Please remember that the space we are in today, as with all BLM events, is a Black Space. Open your ears and minds to what Black folks are telling you so that you can affirm their truth.
~Core Council of Black Lives Matter Bloomington
On June 1st 2019 BLM B-town send the Farmers' Market Advisory Council a letter detailing our concern about the Schooner Creek Farm that is run by Sarah Dye a KNOWN white supremacist with ties to Identity Evrope a tracked terrorist and hate speech group. Since then many more groups and organizations have joined together to request the removal of this farm and its owner from our local farmers market.
Below a copy of our letter to the Advisory Council that has YET to be answered.
Additionally we submit the following recommendations to the Farmers' Market Advisory Council:
1. If you have a mechanism in place to remove them based upon known terrorist or hate speech group affiliation then PLEASE do so immediately
2. IF you do not PLEASE create this policy with the quickness. It is similar to other policies out there and we can help with resources.
3. Once you've done that REMOVE Schooner Creek Farm from the Bloomington Farmers' Market.
4. Additionally PLEASE revise your policies and procedures for handling protest at the Farmer's Market. Calling the police on peaceful non-violent protesters is an intense overreaction and potentially dangerous and fatal IF Black people and other People of color are the ones protesting. Also given in this situation it was the protesters being attacked by violent racists removing the protesters with police force shows a surprising lack of care for Bloomington community members.
5. IF you feel more public comment of this is warranted please let us know and we can and will orchestrate public comment for you either at one of your meetings OR at the Farmer's Market itself.
Dear Farmers’ Market Advisory Council,
The Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market in Showers Common is an icon of Bloomington culture. Visit Bloomington promotes this popular Saturday morning attraction as one of our city’s “most beloved traditions.” Access to fresh, local foods as well as art and entertainment should provide common ground that brings the Bloomington community together. It is not a venue we expect to find promoting racial hatred and bigotry.
Consequently, we were surprised to learn that the Farmers’ Market Advisory Council has continued to allow Schooner Creek Farms to maintain a booth at the Market despite the white nationalist positions promoted by owner Sarah Dye. Beyond simply holding views that ought to be abhorrent to any Bloomingtonian, Dye has publicly advocated for her bigotry via her YouTube videos posted under the moniker “Volkmom.” Further, Dye has connections to the known and tracked white nationalist hate group known as “Identity Evropa.”
More disturbing still, concerned local residents who attempted to confront Schooner Creek Farms over their racist affiliations *LAST YEAR??were met with violence and hate speech by the booth staff a man named Doug and by Dye herself. Again, such behavior is clearly antithetical to the city’s professed values. And yet, Farmers’ Market officials responded by calling the police to have these concerned citizens arrested and banned from the Market while allowing the avowedly violent racist farmers to remain.
Certainly, you can understand why this matter is of great consternation for Bloomingtonians and to Black Bloomingtonians in particular. As such, Black Lives Matter Bloomington would like an explanation from the Farmers’ Market Advisory Council on several points.
First, we are curious about the value the Council sees in keeping Schooner Creek Farms at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market given their active promotion of hatred for large swathes of the Bloomington Community? Are these also the Council’s values?
Second, why does the Council feel that Schooner Creek Farms’ presence is a benefit to the diverse culture of Bloomington and its mission of inclusion and safety for all? Or does the Council share their belief that Bloomington would be better without non-white residents?
Finally, why does the Council feel that the forcible removal of peaceful activists is more in line with Blloomington’s values than the removal of the racist business whose employees physically and verbally assaulted them?
Given the increase in hate crimes nationwide, the explosion of white supremacist organizations like Identity Evropa, and the horrible acts of violence against Black People and other People of Color every day, we and many others in the community are unclear WHY our local Farmers Market should be a venue for a farm that promotes racial hatred.
Please respond to these inquiries as quickly and as completely as you are able. We would also like to know what actions you plan to take on this issue. As news of this situation travels, we are certain that more Bloomingtonians will be contacting you with these concerns in the near future.
Black Lives Matter Bloomington