PRESS RELEASE - Former Sudanese Slave to Lead Washington Juneteenth March
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation
1100 15th Street, N.W., Suite #300
Washington, DC 20005
202-331-8864 202-331-8876 Fax
662-247-1471 662-247-1384 Fax
e-mail: MyersFound@aol.com web sites: www.19thofJune.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (3/22/01)
Contact: Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Chairman
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
web sites: www.19thofJune.com
American Anti-Slavery Group
198 Tremont Street, #421
Boston, MA 02116
web site: www.anti-slavery.com
Escaped Slave to Lead Juneteenth Frederick Douglass Freedom March
Francis Bok Escapes From Ten Years of Slavery in Sudan to Fight for Freedom
(Washington, DC) - In a compelling historical twist, Francis Bok, a modern-day Frederick Douglass will lead the WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH 2001 National Holiday Observance Juneteenth Frederick Douglass Freedom March, on Tuesday, the "19th of June", 2001, in Washington, DC. Juneteenth Independence Day, America's 2nd Independence Day Celebration, commemorates the day slavery ended in America. This occurred on June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, TX, reading General Order 24, announcing to the last group of slaves in the Southwest that they were free, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Efforts are underway to establish Juneteenth as a National Holiday in America.
Like former American slave and historic abolitionist leader Frederick Douglas, Francis Bok escaped from ten years of slavery in Sudan to fight for freedom. While only a little boy in his native Sudan, he was abducted during a slave raid on a local village by government soldiers. Francis was taken by one of the soldiers as a domestic slave, forced to tend livestock and endure daily beatings.
"They told me I was an animal," Francis recalls. "Everyday they called me "Abeed, abeed" " black slave." Francis's master " Giema Abdullah " forced him to sleep outside with the cattle and fed him awful food. "For ten years, I had no one to laugh," Francis notes. "For ten years, nobody loved me."
Francis tried to escape twice and was caught. The third time he vowed not to return to bondage alive, and succeeded in making his way to Egypt. In August of 1999, the United Nations resettled Francis in North Dakota, and in May of 2000, he spoke out for the first time during a ceremony on Capitol Hill. He has since testified to the Senate, met privately with Madeleine Albright, and spoken at over 50 public events.
"My people are silenced by slavery," Francis says. "I must be their voice." Now age 22 and going to school for the first time in his life, Francis invariably evokes another slave turned abolitionists, Frederick Douglass. Francis will head the freedom march in honor of Douglass, leading an array of Americans, " many of them descendants of African slaves. "This is a great land of freedom," Francis observes. "We must use our freedom to help free those who are still slaves today."
The march will begin at 10:00am, at the Frederick Douglass home in Anacostia, 1411 "W" Street, S.E. and will end at the West Side of the U.S. Capitol. At 12:00noon, activities will continue with the National Juneteenth Rally, where Francis and other noted speakers, including Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) and the National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC), leader of the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign, will address those in attendance.
For information about WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH 2001 and the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign, contact Dr. Ron Myers at 662-247-1471 or 202-331-8864, e-mail: MyersFound@aol.com, web sites: www.19thofJune.com or www.JuneteenthShoppingMall.com. For information on the Francis Bok, contact Dr. Charles Jacobs, President, American Anti-Slavery Group at 617-426-8161, web site: www.anti-slavery.com.