America Marks Juneteenth
The Sacred Remembrance Is Worthy of Celebration Not As The End Of Slavery but the Beginning of Making Things Right
Today America marks Juneteenth, the remembrance of the end of slavery in this country. The holiday commemorates the date, June 19th, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned—two years after the Emancipation Proclamation—that they’d been freed.
It is hard to imagine a better reason to celebrate. As a nation, we should, however, resist the temptation to be too proud or self-content about this milestone.
When white Americans ended the heinous practice of slavery, they spent 50 years implementing Jim Crow laws to formally maintain White supremacy. We’re still unraveling the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow.
America has not ended all systemic, institutionalized racism. What remains is subtler, virtually never calling out race as the motivation for laws and policies with racist effects, but they persist nonetheless.
As we mark this holiday so deserving of celebration, those of us whose ancestors were not enslaved should be reminded to think about how we can proactively support those whose ancestors were.
The process begun with the Emancipation Proclamation must continue; the work to do is ours to do.