Season of Independence

The 19th of the month, or Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, began in Texas after the Civil War. Today, it’s celebrated as a holiday in 14 states, although not in Pennsylvania.

No matter. The Library Company of Philadelphia, which at 275 is venerable enough to designate whatever day it wants, is celebrating Juneteenth with a visit by authors Nat Brandt and Yanna Kroyt Brandt who will talk about their new and very apt book: In the Shadow of the Civil War: Passmore Williamson and the Rescue of Jane Johnson.

The true story, which took place in Philadelphia on July 18th, 1855 (a decade before the liberations in Texas) was “found” among the sweepings of time, an afterthought to history. And what a shame it is that we don’t all know and remember this story of how Jane Johnson announced her desire to be free and then seized her freedom that steamy July day on the Delaware waterfront.

Interesting how Juneteenth and Jane Johnson Day straddle the traditional Independence Day – the Fourth of July. And it is very interesting how of the three days, only Jane Johnson’s is the story of how one person stands and chooses freedom.

It’s 29 days (and counting) to July 18th – the day that we can call Jane Johnson Day.

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