A Proclamation on Juneteenth Day of Observance, 2021

June 19, 1865

JUNE 18, 2021PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS

On June 19, 1865 — nearly nine decades after our Nation’s founding, and more than 2 years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation — enslaved Americans in Galveston, Texas, finally received word that they were free from bondage.  As those who were formerly enslaved were recognized for the first time as citizens, Black Americans came to commemorate Juneteenth with celebrations across the country, building new lives and a new tradition that we honor today.  In its celebration of freedom, Juneteenth is a day that should be recognized by all Americans. And that is why I am proud to have consecrated Juneteenth as our newest national holiday.

Juneteenth is a day of profound weight and power.

A day in which we remember the moral stain and terrible toll of slavery on our country –- what I’ve long called America’s original sin.  A long legacy of systemic racism, inequality, and inhumanity.

But it is a day that also reminds us of our incredible capacity to heal, hope, and emerge from our darkest moments with purpose and resolve.

As I said on the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, great nations don’t ignore the most painful chapters of their past. Great nations confront them.  We come to terms with them.

On Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to the work of equity, equality, and justice.  And, we celebrate the centuries of struggle, courage, and hope that have brought us to this time of progress and possibility.  That work has been led throughout our history by abolitionists and educators, civil rights advocates and lawyers, courageous activists and trade unionists, public officials, and everyday Americans who have helped make real the ideals of our founding documents for all.

There is still more work to do.  As we emerge from the long, dark winter of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, racial equity remains at the heart of our efforts to vaccinate the Nation and beat the virus.  We must recognize that Black Americans, among other people of color, have shouldered a disproportionate burden of loss — while also carrying us through disproportionately as essential workers and health care providers on the front lines of the crisis.

Psalm 30 proclaims that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  Juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of slavery and discrimination, and the promise of a brighter morning to come.  My Administration is committed to building an economy — and a Nation — that brings everyone along, and finally delivers our Nation’s founding promise to Black Americans.  Together, we will lay the roots of real and lasting justice, so that we can become the extraordinary country that was promised to all Americans.

Juneteenth not only commemorates the past.  It calls us to action today.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 19, 2021, as Juneteenth Day of Observance.  I call upon the people of the United States to acknowledge and celebrate the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of Black Americans, and commit together to eradicate systemic racism that still undermines our founding ideals and collective prosperity.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

                             JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

Tuskegee Airman receives promotion to Brigadier General

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WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Celebrating a 100th birthday is monumental in itself, but for retired Col. Charles E. McGee, shortly after this celebration he would reach yet another milestone in his successful career.

On Feb. 4, he found himself in the Oval Office at the White House being promoted to brigadier general by President Donald Trump.

“At first I would say ‘wow,’ but looking back, it would have been nice to have had that during active duty, but it didn’t happen that way,” McGee said. “But still, the recognition of what was accomplished, certainly, I am pleased and proud to receive that recognition and hopefully it will help me carry on as we try to motivate our youth in aviation and space career opportunities.”

McGee’s successes started early on in his career, when on June 30, 1943, he earned his pilot’s wings as one of the Tuskegee Airmen, the decorated unit of African American Airmen famous for not only their combat successes, but the impact they had on the cultural shift in the military.

His military career spanned across three decades, where he flew 409 combat missions during three different wars – WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War. While serving, McGee was presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Air Medal and the Presidential Unit Citation.

charles-mcgee_tuskegee-airAfter he retired in 1973, McGee has continued to leave his mark in history. In 2007, he was presented the Congressional Gold Medal by former president George W. Bush, and in 2011, he was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Then in 2019, the Tuskegee Airmen’s legacy was cemented in the naming of the T-7A training aircraft, the “Red Hawk,” in a tribute to the airplane they flew.

“Charles McGee is a genuine American hero whose courage in combat helped save a nation, and whose legacy is felt to this day across the entire U.S. Air Force,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “It was an honor to witness his promotion and to thank him yet again for paving the way for today’s Air Force. The Tuskegee Airmen continue to inspire generations of Americans.”

The evening after he was promoted, McGee attended the State of the Union as a guest and was recognized by Trump. “General McGee, our nation salutes you. Thank you, sir,” Trump said.

Trump wasn’t the only one to recognize McGee this week; on Sunday McGee, along with three other veterans, each 100 years of age, participated in the coin toss at the Super Bowl in Miami.

He has credited all these achievements to a simple formula.

“I’d like to pass on what I call my four ‘P’s’ — perceive, prepare, perform, persevere — dream your dreams but get the good education to accomplish the desires and needs of the country,” he said. “Always seek excellence and always do your best in things that you do. Finally, don’t let the negative circumstances be an excuse for not achieving.”

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Top PhotoPresident Donald J. Trump participates in the promotion pinning ceremony for State of the Union Gallery guest and Tuskegee Airman, retired Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, Feb. 4, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House photo above by Shealah Craighead)

— By Staff Sgt. Jeremy L. Mosier, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

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The Hidden Figure$ of Gaming, Data Processing, and Code

SILICON VALLEY, CA—An early computer hobbyist’s club in Southern California has some pretty heady history behind it. You’d be hard pressed to match the geek cred of some of its members — Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, for example — and Jerry Lawson.

jerry-lawon_game-cartridge-creatorThe late Gerald Anderson Lawson (above), known as Jerry, along with Ron Jones, were the only two members of color of the Homebrew Computer Club in Silicon Valley.

The club began in 1975, the same year National BDPA was founded,  when hobbyists, most with an electronic engineering or computer programming background, met to talk about the Altair 8800 and to exchange schematics and programming tips. The Brooklyn, N.Y.-born electronic engineer, taught himself everything he knew about designing. His impressive creation of the Fairchild Channel F video game console separated him from contemporaries such as Nolan Bushnell and Ralph Baer.

The Fairchild Channel F console was released by Fairchild Semiconductor in November 1976 and was the first programmable ROM cartridge-based video game console, as well as the first console to use a microprocessor. Baer wrote the code for the first video game played on a TV set, called Chase, and in 1972 Bushnell helped create the video game Pong and later that year started Atari Computers.

But it was Lawson’s main distinction as the inventor of the video game cartridge, something that seems simple now, that established our new  standard for how video games were played into the next three decades.

marc-hannahChicago native Marc Regis Hannah (left) is a co-founder of Silicon Graphics (SGI) and is partly responsible for the direction of computer graphics since the company’s 1982 founding in Mountain View, CA. SGI partnered with Nintendo to create the early architecture of the Nintendo 64 gaming system. SGI, in essence, placed the power of a $5,000+ SGI Indy workstation into a $250 toy.  SGI’s technologies were used to design cars, aircraft, and  virtual simulation training for the Defense Department.

sgi-indySGI’s high-powered workstations were responsible for “computerized” films, such as “Mars Attacks!” and “Jurassic Park”.  Hannah’s 16 years at SGI made him a special effects whiz.  Hannah also is the recipient of 13 patents and numerous awards and honors, including the Professional Achievement Award from both Illinois Institute of Technology and the National Technical Association (NTA).

— Sources: Kevin L. Clark, techtimes.com
Photo credits: Estate of Jerry Lawson,
Black American History, and SGI

 

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