Freedom Papers

Report

On June 19, in celebration of the freedom we enjoy today and in solidarity against the oppression still present, we took to the streets of Ypsilanti. Blacks who participated held a freedom ceremony where all who were willing signed Freedom Papers, designed to reflect what freed slaves would have to carry if they lived in Washtenaw County. The point was to hand these freedom papers to many black people passing on the sidewalk and in the streets, all the while asking them, “Are you free?” and “Would you like to be?”

White people who participated were given Juneteenth fact sheets to pass out to other whites. Somewhere along the way, a white guy in a pickup truck was given a freedom paper. He took the time to circle around the block, ball up the paper, set it on fire, and throw it back at the demonstrators. What is beautiful and symbolic, however, is the way that the paper burned, scorching right up to, but not ruining or even touching the black fist in the bottom left-hand corner of the paper.

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fist

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