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Success Is In Your DNA!

John E. Harmon Sr. | 12/30/2014, 6 a.m.
As we approach the final days of the year, for many this becomes a time of reflection; the year 2014 ...
John E. Harmon, Sr.

As we approach the final days of the year, for many this becomes a time of reflection; the year 2014 is in the rearview mirror and you ask yourself, “Where has the year gone”? This can be quite a sobering query if you honestly cannot recall specific accomplishments that you achieved over the course of the year. Unfortunately, no new gains and just merely surviving, is the reality for a number of individuals and business owners at the conclusion of each year. However today, I am writing to remind you that going through life without a plan will inevitably produce this reoccurring outcome and more specifically, if you are an African American, it’s time to stop! Barely surviving, is not a plan, you must put a plan of action in place, that will change your current status of one who is either standing on the precipice, or in a constant holding pattern, and instead chart a course to thrive! Reflecting on our past should serve as inspiration and motivation to continue to move forward.

As President/CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, Inc., my thoughts span far beyond the preceding or current year. I routinely travel back to the continent of Africa and think about how my ancestors were kidnapped from this native land, shackled and shipped like cargo throughout the Black Diaspora. Those who rebelled along the horrific voyage through the Middle Passage were immediately dealt with in a manner too graphic to describe, while others were unloaded at places like Puerto Rico, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and the United States. These ancestors were unwilling participants in the most inhumane trade known to mankind as the “Slave trade”. The life’s work of these strong and resilient, great, and proud people still stands across the United States today. My ancestors built the infrastructure that provides for the water we drink, and the highways and bridges in which cargo, people and essentials resources are transported. Additionally, they toiled in the sweltering hot sun and soaking rain to harvest crops like; tobacco, corn, beans, potatoes, greens, and cotton. Moreover, my ancestors, raised livestock, produced whiskey, and worked in various mills producing items that positioned the United States to be the world’s leading economy.

Then on January 1, 1863, as the nation entered its third year of bloody civil war, President Abraham Lincoln declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free.", through the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

That brings us to Juneteenth; Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. It was on June 19, 1865 that Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln's authority over the rebellious states was in question For whatever the reasons; conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.