Jun 19

Juneteenth: The Struggle for Black Liberation Continues

June 19 is known as Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when black slaves in Texas were freed. It was two and one half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is recognized as a holiday by 45 states, although it is still not widely celebrated. On this Juneteenth, we speak with historian Ana Edwards about the work she does through the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality to preserve and protect land in Richmond that is an African Burial Ground and the site where organizers of a slave rebellion in 1800 were hanged. Then we’ll speak with Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report about systemic racial injustice that continues in the United States.


Listen here:

Relevant articles and websites:

The Underground Legacy of Shockoe Bottom in Richmond, VA by Meghan Drueding

Sacred Ground Project

Black Agenda Report



Ana Edwards is chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, a 2004 initiative of the Richmond-based social justice organization Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality. She regularly presents on the topics of Gabriel’s Rebellion; Richmond’s African Burial Ground; the history and significance of Shockoe Bottom, Richmond’s former slave-trading district; race; human rights and food justice.

From 2005-2013, Ana produced and hosted DefendersLIVE, a news/talk radio program on WRIR, Richmond’s independent, community-sponsored radio station (97.3 LP FM).

In 2005 she helped co-found The Richmond Defender, a monthly community newspaper with a press run of 10,000 copies. Now called The Virginia Defender, the paper is now a statewide quarterly with a circulation of 17,000. Ana serves as co-publisher, member of the editorial board, reporter and tech person.

In 2009 Ana began serving as president of the Virginia Friends of Mali, an educational and cultural engagement organization. The group coordinated the establishment of a sister-city relationship between Richmond and Segou, Mali, and organizes visits and projects between the two cities.

Ana is also a member of the Future of Richmond’s Past Planning Committee, a collaboration of 19 academic and cultural institutions, the U.S. Parks Service and business entities developing annual, coordinated programming to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the U.S. Civil War and Emancipation.

Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1960, Ana holds a BA in Visual Arts from the California State Polytechnic University at Pomona and did graduate work at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Jersey (1984-1986). Her paintings have been displayed at many art exhibitions and in local galleries.

The 10-year struggle to reclaim Richmond’s African Burial Ground (2002-2011) was the seminal work of the Sacred Ground Project because it embodied the principles of the right of oppressed peoples to self-determination and community agency that are the driving force of the Defenders’ work. This work continues in the ongoing struggle to prevent a baseball stadium from being built in historic Shockoe Bottom while working to properly memorialize that district’s slavery-related history.


Glen Ford is Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report and a certified elder of the Black Journalism Tribe. Historic “firsts,” “mosts,” and “onlys” are the hallmarks of Glen Ford’s long career.

The son of famed disc jockey Rudy “The Deuce” Rutherford, the first Black man to host a non-gospel television show in the Deep South – Columbus, Georgia, 1958 – Glen was reading newswire copy on-the-air at age eleven. Glen’s first full-time broadcast news job was at James Brown’s Augusta, Georgia radio station WRDW, in 1970 – where ‘The Godfather of Soul” shortened Glen’s surname to “Ford.”

Glen Ford  worked as a newsperson at four more local stations: in Columbus, Georgia, Atlanta, Baltimore – where he created his first radio syndication, a half-hour weekly news magazine called “Black World Report” – and Washington, DC. In 1974, Ford joined the Mutual Black Network (88 stations), where he served as Capitol Hill, State Department and White House correspondent, and Washington Bureau Chief, while also producing a daily radio commentary. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted “America’s Black Forum” (ABF), the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television.

ABF made Black broadcast history. For the next four years, the program generated national and international headlines nearly every week. Never before – and never since – had a Black news entity commanded the weekly attention of the news services (AP, UPI, Reuters, Agence France-Presse – even Tass, the Soviet news agency) and the broadcast networks.

While still host and co-owner of ABF, Ford in 1979 created “Black Agenda Reports,” which provided five programs each day on Black Women, History, Business, Sports and Entertainment to 66 radio stations. The syndication produced more short-form programming than the two existing Black radio networks, combined.

Ford also produced the McDonald’s-sponsored radio series “Black History Through Music,” aired on 50 stations, nationwide.

In 1987, Ford launched “Rap It Up,” the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. During its six years of operations, “Rap It Up” allowed Ford to play an important role in the maturation of a new African American musical genre. He organized three national rap music conventions, and wrote the Hip Hop column for Jack The Rapper’s Black radio trade magazine.

Ford co-founded BlackCommentator.com (BC) in 2002. The weekly journal quickly became the most influential Black political site on the Net. In October, 2006, Ford and the entire writing team left BC to launch BlackAgendaReport.com (BAR).

In addition to his broadcast and Internet experience, Glen Ford was national political columnist for Encore American & Worldwide News magazine; founded The Black Commentator and Africana Policies magazines; authored The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion (IOJ, 1985); voiced over 1000 radio commercials (half of which he also produced) and scores of television commercials; and served as reporter and editor for three newspapers (two daily, one weekly).

Ford was a founding member of the Washington chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ); executive board member of the National Alliance of Third World Journalists (NATWJ); media specialist for the National Minority Purchasing Council; and has spoken at scores of colleges and universities.