May 20 – Emancipation Day in Florida

Posted on May 20, 2019

Emancipation is such a better word than enslavement!

Arab slavers transporting enslaved
people across the Sahara Desert.
There's been slavery all over the world, from ancient times until the present day. In ancient civilizations such as Sumer, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient China, slavery was common. People who went into debt might pay back the debt by a period of enslavement. Some criminals have been punished by enslavement, and there are many examples of prisoners of war and populations that lose a war being enslaved.

During the Dark Ages and Middle Ages, slavery (sometimes in the guise of serfdom) was common in Europe, and during the growth of the Ottoman Empire, many Christians were enslaved. Within Africa, before Europeans got involved, many peoples enslaved other peoples.

However, the African slave trade to the New World created a particularly horrible sort of slavery: one that passed down from generation to generation, one that was based on the color of one's skin and the assumption that one "race" was inferior to another, one that ripped people away from their relatives and friends and culture and language and homeland and shipped them far, far away. The Atlantic voyage was horrific, and often deadly, for Africans who were enslaved by Europeans or European Americans. The buying and selling of slaves, and the splitting of families, was dehumanizing and cruel, and the treatment of most enslaved people was dreadful.

The Republic of Ragusa (located in what is now Croatia) was the first European nation to outlaw the slave trade, way back in 1416. The first European nation to abolish the slave trade in modern times was Denmark-Norway, in 1802.

Abolition movements are different than merely banning the slave trade or freeing one particular group of enslaved people. Abolition means outlawing ALL slavery. Period.

And abolition movements began to happen in Europe in the late 1700s and the early 1800s. Here are some dates in the history of emancipation:

The British Empire eliminated slavery in all colonies and territories in 1834.

France abolished slavery several times (slavery was outlawed in 1794, but Napoleon reintroduced slavery; in 1848 Victor Schœlcher again abolished slavery in French colonies, and this time it stuck!

Various states in the United States abolished slavery at different times. Vermont in 1777 and Pennsylvania and Massachusetts in 1780 were the first to outlaw slavery. By 1804 most Northern states were free (although some emancipation was gradual, so a few enslaved people still lived in the North for a couple of decades). 

In 1862 slavery was ended in the District of Columbia. D.C. celebrates April 16 as Emancipation Day in commemoration.

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 supposedly freed all the slaves in the Confederate States of America - but of course it took until after the Civil War was finished in 1865 for that to be enforced! 

On May 8, 1865, enslaved people in Mississippi learned of their freedom, and Emancipation Day is called Eight o'May.

On May 20, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation was read publicly in Florida; today is Florida's Emancipation Day in commemoration of that event.

June 19, 1865, the announcement of the abolition of slavery was made in Texas. Juneteenth is the name of the day of commemoration, in Texas and elsewhere.

And on August 8, 1865, enslaved people in Kentucky learned of their freedom. So that state has yet another Emancipation Day!

The 13th Amendment took effect in December, 1865, ending all slavery in the U.S., including among Native American peoples.

Slavery is now against the law everywhere. Unfortunately, that hasn't completely stopped the practice, since some people are still enslaved by human traffickers. (It's similar to murder - making it illegal hasn't completely stopped it!) But still, outlawing slavery everywhere is a huge and crucial step to eliminating it entirely. 

May 19 – Youth and Sports Day in Turkey

Posted on May 19, 2019

Another name for Turkey's May 19 holiday is the Commemoration of Atatürk. Atatürk means "Father of the Turks," and it refers to Mustafa Kemal, Founder of Turkey. Kemal landed in the coastal city of Samsun, on May 19, 1919, to start the War of Independence.

Independence from who? you may be wondering...

Well, the Ottoman Empire (aka Turkish Empire) was one of the losers in World War I, and so the various lands that were part of the Ottoman Empire had been partitioned up (in other words, divided up) and were occupied by the Allies (the nations on the winning side of the war). 

(Above, the map at the beginning of World War I; below, the map after that war.)

So, basically independence from occupying forces from Greece, Armenia, France, the United Kingdom (Britain), and Italy.

The public holiday is a day off work for almost everyone, and a day off of school for students (but this year falls on a Sunday, on the weekend, so many people already have the day off!).

For the past 10 days, young Turkish athletes have been carrying the national flag from Samsun (where Atatürk started the push for independence) to Ankara (the capital city). The route is more than 400 kilometers (about 250 miles). Today that flag is presented to Turkey's president. 

Sporting events are held during the day, and some students give presentations or put on programs. 

Atatürk is celebrated today as if it were his birthday (Kemal's birthdate is unknown). People lay wreaths on the monuments of this Founding Father, and many people hand Turkish flags outside their windows.

Here are some spectacular things to see in Turkey:

Grand Bazaar:

Basilica Cistern:


Cappadocia Mountains:

Hot springs and pools:

Etc., etc.!!!

May 18 - Independence Day in Somaliland

Posted on May 18, 2019

No nation in the world formally recognizes Somaliland as an independent country!

But on this date in 1991, the local authorities in a part of the
African nation of Somalia declared independence from Somalia!

That's a long time for an independent nation to go unrecognized! 

Don't I mean that that's a long time for a region to pretend that it's independent, when it's not?

Actually, apparently the State of Somaliland is de facto independent. That means that, in reality, it is a separate, independent country - just not officially.

Does it surprise you to know that Somaliland is more stable than Somalia is? Its government is more democratic, and its economy is better as well!

Does it surprise you to know that another region of Somalia, Puntland, also considers itself separate and independent - but Somalia and the rest of the world consider both Puntland and Somaliland to be autonomous regions of Somalia!

Check out some info about all three political entities:

Location of Somaliland, Puntland, and Somalia:

Flag of Somaliland:

Flag of Puntland:

Flag of Somalia:

Capital of Somaliland, Hargeisa:

Capital of Puntland, Garowe:

Capital of Somalia, Mogadishu:

Beaches of Somaliland:

Beaches of Puntland:

Beaches of Somalia:

Landscapes of Somaliland:

Landscapes of Puntland:

Landscapes of Somalia:

It's actually not so easy to find landscape photos of Somalia
(the southern part of the nation that are NOT Somaliland
nor Puntland). First, most pretty pix seem to be of the
northern break-away "nations." Second, most photos of
the southern part depict refugees, soldiers, and war damage.

In other words, for every lovely landscape (above), there
are maybe five or ten photos of problems caused by
civil war, suicide bombings, and other violence (below).

Also on this date:

(Varying dates)

(Dates may vary)

(Last Monday preceding May 25)

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