I began my campaign to have this date celebrated two years ago. About 16 months ago I found a black activist leader in Oakland (Len Canty) who agreed that it was an important date to celebrate. He began organizing and talked to many of the people he knows around the country. He found most people were receptive but needed a great deal of prodding to get anything done.
Around June Len began having trouble working full time. He was unable to continue the work but considered it his project. He died of cancer in September. He asked his son to continue the work.
I don't expect to be around to try and organize again for the next anniversary in 50 years.
I am convinced that if this were going to have happened yesterday it would have been organized by a black.
I think part of the reason that the celebration did not occur yesterday is because the Civil War is still far from over and the freed slaves still have not accommodated to the idea of citizenship.
We did not celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the end of the Civil War in 1964 because the war was still going on in the ghettos and in the ideology that frames the American consciousness. Many still view the Civil War as the Great Lost Cause. A Confederate perspective on history.
I think the remnants of both of these issues and the discomfort that blacks have around whites and vice versa continues to be an impediment to my project.
From the outset I knew this celebration was an issue of public sentiment not an issue of organizing.