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Juneteenth: A Proclamation From The Executive Of The United States

Another Independence Day

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Deborah Smith and her husband, Kuma, watch festivities at a Juneteenth celebration at Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, June 19, 2010.
Deborah Smith and her husband, Kuma, watch festivities at a Juneteenth celebration at Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, June 19, 2010. VOA

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves free.”

That proclamation, June 19, 1865, was the spark for a day that has come to be known in the United States as Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of U.S. slavery.

The proclamation in Texas actually came 2½ years after slavery ended with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. That document, which made emancipation effective in slaveholding states January 1, 1863, was signed in the middle of the Civil War. But it was not until federal troops arrived thousands of kilometers west in Texas, two months after the official end of the war in 1965, that many Texas slaves were informed that they were free.

The reason for the delay in notification of the slaves is unclear. It could have been slow communications at a time when telephones and email did not exist; it could have been that such a proclamation could not have been enforced until federal troops arrived in Texas after the war.

Life for freed slaves

The proclamation did not immediately make life easy for freed slaves. They had to find their own work for wages and grapple with prejudice that causes racial divides in the United States today. But emancipation was a legal victory that came as welcome news to the 250,000 African-Americans who had been illegally enslaved in Texas for 30 months after the signing of the document that was meant to free them.

Today, Juneteenth supporters are still working for recognition of the holiday, which is celebrated with picnics, parades, prayer and public celebrations of African-American culture.

The holiday was once celebrated mostly in the western United States. Texas-dwellers took the holiday with them as they followed job opportunities west. But the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s brought a new surge in interest in the holiday in the East, and now 45 out of 50 states have designated the mid-June celebration as an official state holiday or day of observance. Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday.

Slaves
Slaves, Pixabay

Community celebrations

This Saturday and Sunday, many Juneteenth celebrations are taking place before the official June 19 anniversary of the proclamation. In Salisbury, Maryland, close to the eastern U.S. coast, residents held an outdoor festival featuring dancing and local crafts at a cultural center.

Community organizer Amber Green told a reporter that Juneteenth “is basically Black Independence Day.”

Juneteenth celebrations tend to be generated by the community, highlighting ties among family and friends.

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“Today is our festival,” Green said. “We have local artists, local vendors, local music, and we are just bringing the community together through good food, good music and good fun.” (VOA)

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When Oil Crisis Meets Pandemic: The Unfortunate Position Of Texas At The Intersection

The impact of coronavirus has been felt across the nation, but for those states whose economic well-being is also tied to the oil industry like Texas, the blow is even greater

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Coronavirus
The impact of coronavirus has been felt across the nation, but for those states whose economic well-being is also tied to the oil industry like Texas, the blow is even greater. Pixabay

Over 6.6 million Americans lost their jobs in the first week of April due to the impact of coronavirus. In Texas, 51,000 jobs were lost in March, which is the largest decline in a single month since the Great Recession. Texas has been hit doubly hard by current events, with the crashing oil market meeting the loss of a large number of jobs in the service and hospitality industries.

Oil Market Flooded While Demand Dropped

US oil prices dipped into negative figures for the first time earlier this month due to the drop in demand for fuel. This makes it impossible for producers in Texas to make money. Kenny Istre, vice president of a machine shop in Houston, recounted customers withdrawing their orders for drilling equipment even before oil prices plummeted. Mr. Istre saw the majority of his workforce confined to their homes amidst lockdown restrictions at the same time as the oil-supply surged. “This is like a double whammy,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “They were canceling flights every day, and now people aren’t driving to work. The market is going to be flooded with oil.”

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Job Losses Across All Sectors

Meanwhile, unemployment benefits claims in Texas increased by 259,652 in the last two weeks of March, with job losses felt in businesses ranging from health care to transport, oil and gas, the hospitality sector and real estate. Houston employers reported that the local economy lost 18,200 more jobs in March than it had in February as lockdown orders forced businesses to close. Unemployment hits the individual hard, but the impact will also be felt by business owners. Texas is unique in that it doesn’t require businesses to have worker’s compensation insurance. However, employers who elected to have Texas worker’s comp insurance will be glad they took it out, as many insurance providers are helping businesses soften the blow while their operations are at a standstill. 

Refinery, Pump, Oil Pump, Industry, Oil Rig, Gas, Fuel
Texas has been hit doubly hard by current events, with the crashing oil market meeting the loss of a large number of jobs in the service and hospitality industries. Pixabay

The Double-Whammy

The growth of the Texan economy has been intrinsically linked with oil since the early 1900s. This has afforded the state much prosperity, but it means it’s vulnerable to the state of the oil market. Previous blows have been cushioned by economic diversity, but with so many industries ground to a halt, the situation is much starker this time. The impact on the job market is predicted to be 0.5-1% worse in Texas than in other states due to its role in energy production.

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The impact of coronavirus has been felt across the nation, but for those states whose economic well-being is also tied to the oil industry like Texas, the blow is even greater. While everything will be done to get the economy back on its feet as the pandemic slows, it’s clear that its impact will be felt for a long time.

[Disclaimer: The article published above promotes links of commercial interests.]

 

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“Jazz: The Music of Freedom, Human Rights and Liberation”, According to UNESCO

April 30 is marked as the International Jazz Day

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International Jass Day is coming up. Pixabay

Terming Jazz “the music of freedom, human rights and liberation”, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay has given a call to turn to jazz now more than ever; to get closer to one another on this ninth International Jazz Day, marked on April 30.

Established by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2011 and recognised by the United Nations General Assembly, International Jazz Day brings together countries and communities worldwide every April 30, to celebrate jazz and highlight its role in encouraging dialogue, combating discrimination and promoting human dignity. International Jazz Day has become a global movement, reaching billions of people annually.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s annual International Jazz Day global celebration and the event’s flagship Global Concert, initially scheduled to take place in South Africa’s Cape Town will take place online. This will also be the case with the many other events planned around the world for the day.

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Herbie Hancock will be hosting the Global Concert this year. Wikimedia Commons

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue Herbie Hancock, is the host of the Global Concert this year, which features artists from across the globe, and will be streamed live on the Organisation’s site. Artists scheduled to perform at the concert include John McLaughlin, Jane Monheit, Alune Wade, John Beasley, Ben Williams, Lizz Wright, John Scofield, Igor Butman, Evgeny Pobozhiy, Youn Sun Nah, A Bu, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves and Joey DeFrancesco, among others.

Closer home, the popularity of jazz seems to be growing in India, as does its active listenership and practice.

NCR-based The Piano Man Jazz Club founder and Fulbright music scholar Arjun Sagar Gupta believes that Jazz, like another other form of art and culture, needs exposure to grow and gain popularity.

“The last five-six years has seen a renewed push towards the promotion of jazz in India, which is creating an ever increasing base of patrons and lovers of theart form. We hope that in the years to come this continues to grow, spurred on by more and more artists performing the music and more people supporting and listening to it,” Gupta told IANSlife.

During the lockdown, The Piano Man is also live streaming an online six-artiste concert to mark the occasion. Featured artistes are Bhavya Raj, Vatsal Bakhda, Manta Sidhu, Tatyana Shandrakova, Arjun Sagar Gupta and Elena Friedrich. “Jazz, for me, is at a point in India, where it is growing and we have people who want to explore this art form, both as musicians and as listeners,” Bakhda said.

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Jazz as a genre has been in the spotlight, thanks to endorsements by music’s biggest stars like Kendrick Lamar, whose album “To Pimp a Butterfly” prominently featured contemporary names from the new-age jazz world.

In celebration of the International Jazz Day, social music streaming app Resso has added a station to their latest song tab channel eQuaranTunes’ called eJazz At Home’. In addition to that, they will launch 10 mood-based playlists for every hour curated as per the vibe and time of the day. The station covers the pioneers as well as new age artists in the genre that include Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery to Kamasi Washington, Snarky Puppy and Flying Lotus among others. (IANS)

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January- The Hottest Month Ever Recorded

Last Month Was Hottest January Ever, US Scientists Say

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January weather
Last month was the warmest January ever recorded, U.S. government forecasters say, with human-led climate change the leading cause. Pixabay

Last month was the warmest January ever recorded, U.S. government forecasters say, with human-led climate change the leading cause.

Global temperatures were 1.13 degrees Celsius higher than the 20th century average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday — the highest in at least 141 years.

January weather
People sit on docks in the Charles River Esplanade park in Boston during unseasonably warm weather as temperatures climbed into the low 70s in January. VOA

Record-high heat was felt in parts of Latin America, Asia, Scandinavia, and over parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Parts of Russia were 5 degrees higher and sea ice around Antarctica was nearly 10% below average.

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The outlook for all of 2020 also points to a warming planet, with experts predicting the year will rank among the five hottest ever recorded.

Global warming can cause floods and more powerful storms in some parts of the world while others will suffer droughts, eventually leading to what a United National panel says will be food shortages and a widespread refugee crisis. (VOA)