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…

Black political power struggles with hunting a murderer

“The Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) found Debra Walker stumbling and bleeding early on April 11th.

The police and medical first responders found her suffering from 15 stab wounds. They…

A Black woman therapist — and anti-racist community advocate — acknowledges the sheer will and tenacity in the women she sees.

“The human toll of these stressors is immeasurable. Our minds, bodies, souls, success, wealth, and health rise and fall depending upon how other people treat us. We are not in control even though we try to be. Yet we cope. On one hand, one of the strengths of being a Black woman is that it allows me — allows us — to be seen as the cornerstone of the family, community, and society. On the other hand, this type of stress and expectation inevitably causes chronic exhaustion and the onset of physical and mental illnesses.” — Shanya Gray

Read Gray’s…

Stop thanking me for being polite when I’m angry about injustice —focus on the injustice instead

“If you aren’t more upset about the underlying offenses than you are about the tone of the speaker — so upset that you couldn’t care less about the tone: we aren’t in this together — not really. At that point when someone thanks me for being polite, politeness fails me. I hardly ever say thank you. I might give such comments a cursory “like,” on Facebook, but I will not nor will I ever again thank anyone for indirectly implying that anyone who can’t say the same things as politely as I do isn’t making a valid point deserving of…

Posthumous praise from the music establishment is too little, too late

“Prince’s follow-this-mufuckers clap-back was well warranted. Reportedly, he was miffed by Rolling Stone’s assertion that he couldn’t hold his own against the likes of rock stalwarts Eric Clapton, Duane Allman…

Derek Chauvin was found guilty on three counts and the nation is stunned

Rev. Al Sharpton says a prayer as he is joined by the family of George Floyd outside the Hennepin County Government Center on April 19, 2021, in Minneapolis. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Across the nation, people hollered, wept, and honked horns. They stopped what they were doing to observe and to tune in to any television, livestream, or social media around 5 p.m. EST— all to hear the verdict in the case of Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd.

Minneapolis braced for violence, its very leadership used to the legal backlash that happens when police officers hardly ever pay any significant price for the murder of Black and Brown people. Truth be told, nearly every major city braced — fully expecting a not guilty verdict as…

Across the U.S., people of color point to a root cause: environmental racism

“Wind blows oily black dust onto cars, windowsills, and lawns as a 100-car train loaded with coal rolls past Parchester Village, a historically Black neighborhood in Richmond, California. This happens a couple of times a week. The train’s cargo, mined from the mountains of Utah by the coal giant Wolverine Fuels, will join the towering piles of coal at the Levin-Richmond Terminal, a privately owned coal shipping port seven miles away. The terminal is responsible for a quarter of the coal the United States ships from the West Coast to Asia.

The coal dust gets so thick that some say…

To kill a word, you first have to kill an idea

“I looked over and saw a boy, no more than 18 years old, sitting on his bike. He waited for my reaction, his foot poised on the pedal in case…

“The Chauvin trial isn’t just about the murder of George Floyd; it is about the lack of compassion and humanity shown toward Black people in this country and whether or not America will choose to ever see it. What’s most troublesome about the beginning of this trial is the trauma that will be reignited. Every time an innocent Black person is murdered, it is like all of us receive yet another slash to our hearts — death by a thousand cuts. We’re told not to protest, not to cry out, not to seek justice, and just wait as a system…

Momentum Blog Team

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