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‘Emancipation Proclamation—Forever Free,’ a new book by UMI, can help

By LAPACAZO SANDOVAL | 7/18/2013, 3:19 p.m. | Updated on 7/18/2013, 3:19 p.m.
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The amount I know about my freedom and the U.S. Constitution, sadly, is very little. I know there is a Constitution, but the details on how it was shaped and the real reason why it is such an important part of my present and my future has eluded me until now.

Urban Ministries Inc. (UMI), the largest independent, African-American-owned and -operated Christian media company, has published “Emancipation Proclamation—Forever Free: How Slavery Began and Ended in the United States” to commemorate the sesquicentennial season of Black freedom, the 150th anniversary of important liberation dates that continue through December 2015.

At a recent luncheon at The New York Times, I had the pleasure of meeting the authors: Kevin McGruder, Ph.D., and public historian Velma Maia Thomas.

“Emancipation Proclamation—Forever Free” is not a boring, dry book that academics would treasure. But don’t get me wrong; those cerebral masters will appreciate the details and accuracy. This wonderfully illustrated book is made “for the people” to understand the historical and current relevance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

It’s fascinating. Through historic documents and pictures, the full-color coffee table book is both a celebration and a history. It chronicles efforts to free the enslaved, starting before the Declaration of Independence, continuing to the Civil War and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and then following through to the ratification of the 13th Amendment. “Emancipation Proclamation—Forever Free” culminates in the re-election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, which took place almost exactly 150 years after emancipation.

The book chronicles the people—Black and white, enslaved and free—who created the conditions for emancipation. It is the story of those who resisted the evil of humans treated as property and ultimately triumphed.

Jan. 1 was the sesquicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. “The executive order known for freeing slaves was a huge spoke in the wheel of freedom, even though it was not the wheel or even the hub,” said Thomas.

Every page of this lavish book enlivens the long, rich history of the Black freedom struggle through superbly designed images and exact reproductions of original documents. The book begins with the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the U.S. and explains why the Constitution made emancipation necessary.

The final pages revisit Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s recognition of the 100th year of emancipation and Obama’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“‘Emancipation Proclamation—Forever Free’ makes complex history easy to understand, appreciate and celebrate by connecting Black traditions of Watch Night and Juneteenth with their sesquicentennial roots in the Emancipation Proclamation,” said McGruder.

For more information, visit www.UrbanMinistries.com.