The 4th Edition of the CoAAG asks the question-What Does Freedom Mean To Me? On June 19th in recognition of Juneteenth, and in celebration of Freedom, people will blast the airways with conversations all around the theme of Freedom. GeneaBloggers and others will converge on Twitter.com for an all day Tweet-A-Thon for FreedomTweet2010. I hope that everyone will take part in this historic event.
What Does Freedom Me To Me?
I have thought long and hard about the question and my answer. The answer did not come as quickly as one might think, nor was it as simple.
Growing up as a young girl in the segregated South, you might think I would be able to recount occasions when my Freedom, or that of my ancestors, was denied – but, I cannot. You might think that I would remember being turned away from lunch counters or directed to the “Negro” section, drinking from a “colored only” water fountain, or moving to the back of the bus – but, I do not. I do remember riding in the back of the trolley car, but thought that was just where my mother chose to sit; not that we had to sit there because we did not have the “Freedom” to sit anywhere else. I do remember restrooms in downtown Atlanta labeled “Colored” and “White”, but in my child’s mind I thought the colored one must just be more colorful, but once inside was sad to see the same old white.
Freedom was not a subject I remember hearing discussed in school, at home, or during church. Looking back I think our parents and elders thought they were protecting us by not talking about those realities of life; the denials of Freedom that they most assuredly faced on a daily basis. I wonder, “What did Freedom mean to them?” What did Freedom mean to my mom as she entered the back door of her employer’s home in Buckhead; or to my grandmother as she cooked in that hot hotel kitchen; or to my great grandparents as they labored in the cotton fields of Woodbury, Georgia. What did Freedom mean to my enslaved ancestors upon hearing news of the Emancipation Proclamation? Were they excited, relieved, or just plain scared? Did they wonder, was this Freedom a trick? Did they ask “What does this Freedom mean to me?” Did their answer come quickly, in an instant, or did they ponder the thought—Freedom. Freedom! Freedom? What does F-R-E-E-D-O-M mean?
So again, I ask myself the question “What Does Freedom Mean to Me?” It is a very subjective question that can elicit a very personal response. Freedom is living in a country where someone can ask that question, and everyone is free to answer-as they choose, without fear of reprisals. Earlier Luckie Daniels, host of the 4th Edition CoAAG, posed the question to me. My response was “Freedom is independent choice; the free will to choose my path through life. Turn left or turn right? I choose and live with MY choice.” For me, a very important aspect of Freedom is choice.
More importantly, for me, Freedom is ACCESSIBILITY. For me, this symbol translates to Freedom. Freedom for me is a life without barriers. Freedom is accessibility to housing, education, employment, transportation, healthcare, entertainment, and recreation. Accessibility – that Freedom is very important to me. Without it I am still me, but not a free me. What’s the point of Freedom, if not to be – Free!