Guest Column: Freedom Comes from Within

Rachel Murphy and her son Edward Murphy, IV in 2021. Courtesy Image.

By Rachel L. Murphy 

Juneteenth means to me that even though we (African Americans) were left out of the Declaration of Independence, we still have our freedom. We do not have to have someone else to give us our freedom. It does not have to be written on a piece of paper, where the white people decided that we were/are free. 

Our freedom comes from within ourselves. This was decided and celebrated by African Americans living, ironically, in Texas at that time. 

Living in Bedford was a rude awakening for my family. It was not easy. It was a daily climb. Ed and I taught our children their African American history. We home-schooled them, after school, to make certain they learned what was not taught in the Bedford Public Schools. 

My family faced daily challenges because of our race, which we fought and lived through. It made us stronger in many ways. 

There was a lot of work to be done, such as: 

  1. Correcting the educators and residents that neither of us had grown- up in the projects or slums. 
  2. That we were very aware of racism and revealed how we dealt with it. We were very, strongly, outspoken about our heritage.
  3. We joined various white friends to push for African American educators in the schools, at all levels. But when I left Bedford in 2018 that was still an ongoing battle.
  4. We worked with various white friends to make certain that a part of the Bedford taxes and funding, which we paid into, were used to put books with correct information about African American History on the Bedford Free Public Library shelves.

All of the above, plus a lot more, is what Juneteenth means to me.

Rachel L. Murphy has lived in Bedford for more than 50 years. She attended the First Baptist Church of Bedford. Her children (Dawn, Denita, Eddie and Crystal) attended Bedford Public Schools, K-12. Rachel started and organized the Concern Black Citizens of Bedford. She was also active on the Bedford Council on Human Relations.

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