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  • NYS Writers Institute

Juneteenth: A Langston Hughes poem, a screening, and local events



America celebrates June 19 as "Juneteenth," our newest federal holiday. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. Read the Juneteenth plaque.


Events in the region throughout the long weekend

A number of local events are planned today in Albany, Schenectady, Troy and also Saratoga Springs, where at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 18, historian Robert C. Conner will discuss his book Granger: The Savior of Chickamauga and the Man Behind "Juneteenth."

Find more events in the Capital Region and in the Hudson Valley. and in New York City.


A screening of "Searching for Timbuctoo" on Sunday

Filmmaker (and UAlbany colleague) Paul A. Miller's powerful documentary "Searching for Timbuctoo" tells the little-known story of a wealthy New York abolitionist's gift of land in the 1800s for a Black settlement in the Adirondacks, leading one man to the brink of insanity, sending another to the gallows, and helping hurtle the nation towards civil war.

Watch this film at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 19, on WMHT-TV.

More about the film and screenings at https://www.timbuctoofilm.com/the-film

A poem in recognition of Juneteenth

Here is an excerpt from Langston Hughes' "Let America Be America Again" originally written in 1935.

O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek— And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope, Tangled in that ancient endless chain Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! Of work the men! Of take the pay! Of owning everything for one's own greed!

Read the full poem at poetryfoundation.org